Flos virginum: Motets of the 15th century

Stimmwerck
62:10
cpo 777 937-2

In many ways there is no more exposed singing scenario than one-to-a-part fifteenth century vocal music. It demands a perfect blend and perfect intonation, and that on vocal lines which sometimes seem to defy melodic logic. This CD presents an intriguing selection of 15th-century motets and songs which places the big names – Dufay, Pullois and Brassart – alongside lesser figures such as de Sarto, Martini and Krafft as well as airing several anonymous works from the period. Unfortunately the standard of the singing is variable, often very fine and nicely blended, but just occasionally settling badly on to chords. It would be invidious to highlight particular voices, but bringing guest voices into an established ensemble is always a hazardous business. There is a pleasant come-and-go to the dynamics and a nice sweep to the melodic lines, and articulation is generally effective although just occasionally detail is lost. This CD is well worth the investment for the wealth of relatively unknown material it contains, brought to light as part of a project exploring musical life in Austria in the late middle ages.

D. James Ross