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American Record Guide: (11/2017) 
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Reviewer: Peter Loewen

Johannes Tinctoris (c. 1435-1511) was a renowned music theorist. Like many of the composers of his era, after getting his training in the Netherlands he traveled to Italy, where his fame took hold. His Liber de Arte Contrapuncti (1477) is one of the most important sources of information about contemporary composers and their practices of voices leading. One wonders whether any of his music would have seemed out of step with contemporaries. His preference for unrelenting counterpoint, often beginning in duet, bears witness to his training with Dufay in 1460. In fact, Tinctoris’s music has all of the markings of a Burgundian composer. Long duet passages in the ‘Gloria’ of the Sine Nomine Mass are strongly reminiscent of Dufay’s writing. The melodic descent by step and leap up by a third is also typically Burgundian. Yet the double leading-tone cadences in the ‘Kyrie’ of the Homme Armé Mass sound like a throwback to the early 15th Century. As he prepared to write his Liber, one wonders how much the careful study he made of the past 40 years of Netherlandish composition affected his own practices.


The quality of these performances is exceptionally high. Roughly a third of the works are played by an ensemble of plucked nd bowed instruments (lute, harp, vielle, rebec, viola d’arco). To set off Tinctoris’s style, Romain has included Robert Morton’s rondeau ‘Le Souvenir de Vous Me Tue’ and two of Tinctoris’s variations on it. Ockeghem’s rondeau ‘Dung Aultre Amer’ is at the center of another set of variations by Francesco Spinacino, Alexander Agricola, and Tinctoris. The anonymous ‘Ou Lit de Pleurs Tres Agrevé’ is outstanding among the works on this recording. I agree with David Fallows that is unlike anything else from this period. Its counterpoint is chordal, which shows off the unusual juxtaposition of progressive and retrospective characteristics. Emphasizing double leading-tone cadences in a texture like this reminds me of the ‘Gloria’ and ‘Credo’ movements of Machaut’s Mass, composed roughly 100 years earlier. And yet, the rich triadic sonorities seem to anticipate the music of the late 16th Century.

To compare, one might listen to another excellent recording of Tinctoris’s music by Voces Aequales (Hungaroton 32583; M/A 2009).
Texts and notes are in English.

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