Guillaume Dufay is wonderfully feted in Gothic Voices’ latest disc, imagining him as the guest of honour at a wedding banquet on New Year’s Day towards the end of his life in the 1470s. Such a scenario allows us a retrospective savouring of his considerable output, both chansons and motets. Dufay was the closest thing the 15th-century musical world had to an international superstar. By the end of his long life (scholars now guess he died in his late 70s) he had risen from the ranks of choirboy to being a musician trusted by some of the most powerful people in Europe, including the d’Este family and Pope Eugene IV.
The four parts of the program (The Welcome, A Reflection, Solemn Celebration and Playful Celebration) recall love’s optimism and despair followed by noble expressions of virtue and finally the humour of daily life. Amongst the highlights are Resveilliés vous (written for a noble wedding), Ecclesiae Militantis (performed at the coronation of Eugene IV) and Salve Flos Tusce Gentis in which the composer cheekily mentions himself. The new year chanson Ce Jour de l’An features in a number of different guises.
Given the complexity of rhythm and texture in much of this music, it is wonderful to hear such stylish performances in which vocal flexibility and clarity are never absent. The instrumental contributions by Andrew Lawrence-King and others are well judged and Linn’s engineering is totally sympathetic.
Performer: Gothic Voices
Catalogue Number: Linn CKD568