Antoine Brumel (±1460-±1513) is famous today for one piece of music while the rest of his music languishes in unfair obscurity. His Missa Et ecce terrae motus, (The Earthquake Mass) was the first ever twelve-voice Mass-setting, and it lively rhythms and ingenious use small motifs mean that it’s fêted both as a remarkable piece of music and for its status as a milestone in the history of Western music. But the status of this one Mass has led us to neglect the remainder of his output and this neglect is to our detriment. (His contemporaries were in no doubt of his stature mentioning him in the same breath and with the same reverence as Occkeghem). Brumel’s output included no less than fifteen Masses including a pioneering Missa pro defunctis which includes the first-known polyphonic setting of Dies irae and the subject of today’s posting his Missa Victimae paschali laudes which as you might expect is based upon the Sequence for Easter Sunday of that name about which I wrote yesterday.
Brumel’s typical approach to composition was to take a musical fragment in this case the first phrase of the Easter sequence Victimae paschali laudes and use it repeatedly to build an entirely new musical structure. These structures could be relatively humble and plain like some of his motets of very grand and imposing like his Masses but in each case the ‘bricks’ were musical fragments that he layered one atop another to get the effect he desired. All of the melodies you’ll hear in the Mass below are generated from this one musical fragment. Enjoy :-).
Antoine Brumel (±1460-±1513): Missa Victimae paschali laudes
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Performers: The Hilliard Ensemble conducted by Paul Hillier