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Jacob Obrecht

3448 Views 13 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Mandryka
Jacob Obrecht (1457-1505) died too young; Josquin Desprez outlived and overshadowed him. But he was very forward-thinking; as R.D. Ross observed, his "motets reveal the extent to which tonal root movements had overtaken modal root movements possibly for the first time in music history." Or as Richard Staines puts it, it "represents an early stage in the evolution of diatonic tonality."

He lived in times when masses were based on a cantus firmus (a predetermined melody), and he was skilled at manipulating it as a structural device. His Missa Maria Zart is almost Brucknerian in its length and structure; he breaks the chant up into segments for development.

"Obrecht's premature death deprived Europe of one of its most formidable musical intellects," Richard Staines observed.

Has anyone else explored his music?
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What do you lovers of early music think of the early music analogue of the Missa Solemnis, Missa Maria Zart? I have the Peter Philips recording, which is slow, and I'm quite tempted by an early LP, by The Madrigal Singers of Prague, which seems faster. Has anyone heard it? What's the style?
There appear to be some copies left:

Perhaps you've heard of this release already. It's a double album with the masses "Fortuna desperata" and "Rose playsante". The kyries of both masses are Obrecht at his best, and some of the best Renaissance music from those decades, at least to my ears.

The singers do a fine enough job, maybe a bit too slow in tempo, and with a rather strange balance, with the bass dominating, especially in "Fortuna desperata", and the tenor sometimes being drowned out. On the other hand, you have close miking and everything that that implies, as well as generally excellent singing.
This came today. I've spent most of the week listening to Josquin masses - Gaudeamus and Pange Lingue and L'Homme Armé SVM (I've just discovered de Labyrintho) - and I can tell you it's quite a shock to dive into the tougher, more abstract world of Obrecht. I like Fortunae Desperata, but not as much as Maria Zart. Maybe I need to put a wider gap between it and Josquin.

I'm not keen on close miking, but I'm learning to turn the volume and find a certain sweet spot in my listening room.
There's ANS live singing M. Maria Zart live on youtube- more vigorously and less reverentially than Tallis/Philips.
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