This is a very well-produced CD, put together with thought and with a comprehensive booklet that provides some very informative and interesting translation of the songs – more of that later.
Against a lot of infighting between Kings and Popes and the backdrop of the Counter Reformation was the very divided German Empire of the 15th and 16th centuries. Paradoxically it became a breeding ground for an outstanding musical culture. In all this was music of great complexity. This CD examines in a very entertaining way a number of Flemish composers who were in charge of the most important music chapels during the 16th century.
There are five composers who are featured on the disc. The first and earliest is Heinrich Isaac (1450-1517). Maximillian I secured his services – apparently he was Lorenzo de Medici’s pet composer.
His songs on this disc range from the profound and hearfelt Virgo Prudentissa – an eulogy to the Virgin Mary to the very playful Mein Muterlein which has the following words:
Mother, dear mother mine
they asked me
if I wanted a writer
‘Certainly not!’, I said
‘If I take a writer for a husband
then they would call me a writer- woman
and an Ink dauber
It would bring shame on me
I would have no honour in this land’
To the rather bawdy,
‘Troublemaker, stirrer, home-wrecker
how do you like that?
I want to sit at your table
and kiss your wife on the mouth
How do you like that?
There are less well known composers on the disc but their music is lovely – some religious, some less so. One of the towering giants on the disc is Orlandus Lassus who is well represented here from the very short – it last less than two minutes – Audite nova! (Hear the news!) to the more serious six part and very complicated O Mensh, gedenck ( O Mortal, Consider…) which paints a dark portrait of an ageing master; melancholic and weary.
But don’t let that put you off. Go buy this disc if you want some very rich and great singing by the Australian Song Company and you will have a mix of the sacred and profound as well as drinking songs such as Audite nova!
The peasant from Donkeychurch
has a fat goo-goo-goose
She has a long, fat, thick, bold neck
bring out the goose!
Have at her, my dear Hans
Plume her, pluck her
boil her, roast her
pull her apart, devour her!