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SIG 023
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SIG 023

Dufay - Sacred Music from Bologna Q15

The Classical Shop
release date: July 2007

Originally recorded in 2007


Edward Wickham

The Clerks Group


St Andrews, West Wratting

31 Aug - 2 Sept 2000


David Trendell


Limo Hearn

Record Label




Total Time - 60:00
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The Bologna Q15 Manuscript

1 Vasilissa, ergo gaude; (a, b, c, e) 2:47
2 Kyrie Fons bonitatis; (a-f) 6:58
3 O beate Sebastiane; (a, c, d) 2:59
4 Gloria (Bol. Q15 no. 107); (a-d) 4:47
5 O gemma, lux et speculum; (a, b, d, f) 4:37
6 Credo (Bol. Q15 no. 108); (a-d) 6:29
7 Supremum est mortalibus bonum; (a-f) 6:25
8 Sanctus and Benedictus (Bol. Q15 no. 104); (a-f) 6:21
9 Inclita stella maris; (a, b, c, f) 4:07
10 Agnus Dei (Bol. Q15 no. 105); (a-f) 3:26
11 Gloria Spiritus et alme; (a-d) 6:03
12 O sancte Sebastiane; (a, b, e, f) 5:01

This is the third disc recorded by The Clerks’ Group for their Signum Records trilogy. The series explores repertoire in the medieval period and culminates with a selection of works by Guillaume Dufay, found in one of the great anthologies of 15th century music: the manuscript Bologna, Civico Museo Bibliografico Musicale, MS Q15 (or "Q15" as it is known by its friends).

The Q15 manuscript contains examples of almost every conceivable musical genre of the period by a vast array of composers. The Clerks’ Group has chosen to perform works by a single composer, but still the variety of forms and styles on offer is bewildering. Guillaume Dufay was a composer who witnessed and contributed to most of the revolutionary changes to occur in music composition in the 15th century. The album includes some of the earlier works so often neglected from Dufay’s repertoire, and goes on to explore compositions that demonstrate this revolutionary genius. Some compositional techniques celebrated by The Clerks’ Group’s performance include the playful exchange of Dufay’s song-like melodies between the vocal lines; and the use of mensural canon, where the same melody is sung by all voices but at slightly different speeds. These are just a few examples of the radical nature of Dufay’s music as demonstrated on this recording.

The Clerks’ Group brings immense diversity to the music and its performance. Their refreshing approach displays sincere empathy and passion for this astonishing repertory.


                              Artistic quality 9  -   Sound quality 9

"Although the music of Dufay is no stranger to CD--groups such as Pomerium, the Binchois Consort, Gothic Voices, and Orlando Consort all have devoted discs to his masses and motets--this offering by The Clerk’s Group, featuring selections from an important Italian manuscript known as Bologna Q15, provides a fascinating overview of both early and later works from this illustrious 15th century French composer. The hour-long program focuses on motets and mass movements that reveal a progression in Dufay’s compositional style, from the rather square motet Vasilissa, ergo gaude (the composer’s "earliest datable work") to the complex rhythms and free ornamentation of O gemma, lux et speculum and the sophisticated structure and highly developed melodic/harmonic relationships of the Credo (manuscript No. 108).

If you’re an early music fan, you’ll be right at home with this mostly male ensemble’s finely focused, reedy sound (there’s one woman among the group’s six members, veteran alto Lucy Ballard), and there’s no letting down of energy or concentration throughout the longest phrases within individual motets or across the more extended mass movements. The closely recorded voices and overall bright sonic quality wears a bit after 15 or 20 minutes, but you can’t fault the singing, which brings a vibrant, assured presence to these ancient works; and if you’re looking for fine, clearly sung, stylistically conscientious performances, you really can’t go wrong here."

David Vernier

"This is the Clerks’ Group’s third CD for the Signum label, and as before they focus on one manuscript, and in this case on the work of one composer therein. Choosing to make the source the unifying device for a programme permits enormous stylistic variety within the programme, and this is certainly the case here. We hear Dufay at his most conservative cheek by jowl with with some of his most daring experiments, and all of it beautifully sung by the Clerks. The Floating Earth engineers allow the group slightly more bloom than they are normally afforded on ASV, and the results are pleasing allowing Dufay’s melodic lines to soar and float as intended. In addition to a bewildering variety of motets, we have two pairs of Mass movements, while the Kyrie Fons bonitatis is sung with appropriate plainchant, restoring the intended nine-part structure. The Clerks’ Group are now so familiar with this sort of repertoire that their technical assurance and interpretative confidence are unparalleled."

D. James Ross


Early Music Review

"DUFAY is arguably the greatest 15th-century composer, and the vast Bologna Q15 anthology includes many of his works. This disc presents half a dozen motets: the medieval-sounding Vasilissa, ergo gaude of 1420 contrasts markedly with the wonderful Supremum est mortalibus of 1433; while the final Amen of O sancte Sebastiane is pure spiritual ecstasy. The motets are interspersed with six mass movements, including four written as two “pairs” — a Gloria and Credo, and a Sanctus and Agnus — before the custom for writing complete mass cycles was established. The effect of the various juxtapositions is unexpectedly dazzling, suggesting a composer full of original ideas. The Clerks’ Group, under Wickham, sing beautifully."      ***

Stephen Pettitt

Sunday Times - 27 October 2002

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