Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Landmarks (20)

Johannes Ockeghem: Mort tu as navré de ton dart (ca 1460) & Josquin des Prez: Nymphes des bois (ca 1497).

These two pieces are links in a chain: the first is Ockeghem's lament for Gilles Binchois, the second is Josquin's La déploration de la mort de Johannes Ockeghem. In sequence, these compositions assert a historical continuity and re-imagination that characterizes and is unique to the European musical renaissance. They each combine settings of a contemporary secular poem in French (but one clearly rooted in the classical past of the Roman planctus) with a sacred cantus firmus in Latin. Ockeghem's upper voice sings a ballade (his only ballade) with a melodic shape more like those of Binchois than his own, and Josquin's upper voice begins with a citation, from the opening of the Kyrie to Ockeghem's Missa Cuiusvis toni.

(N.B. Actually, this chain could be extended further, with, for example, Nicolas Gombert's lament on the death of Josquin, Musae Iovis, thus setting the links -- corresponding to generations -- in alternating hues, one more clear and direct (Binchois, Josquin) , the next more complex and elusive (Ockeghem, Gombert)).


PWS said...

Are you an Ockeghem kinda guy or a Josquin kinda guy?

Daniel Wolf said...

I would like to say Ockeghem, but that risks immodesty because his music is just so good. (I have his complete works right next to my desk).

But I suppose that you'll have to wait until I kick it, and figure it out based upon whoever writes a Deploration for me.