Josquin & The Franco-Flemish School II

Program: #21-36   Air Date: Aug 30, 2021

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More from the vast Warner archives, including Josquin’s secular works.

N.B.—All of the music on this program is from the boxed set from the Warner Classics label Josquin and the Franco-Flemish School. It’s a 34-CD compilation, and is catalogue number 190296730849.

Josquin and the Franco-Flemish School (34-CD)
Active in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the composers of the Franco-Flemish School included such brilliant and diverse figures as Binchois, Dufay, des Prez, Obrecht, de La Rue, Isaac, Roland de Lassus, Willaert and de Wert. Spanning two hundred years of Western music history, the School flourished throughout the Renaissance as the language of music underwent the gradual shift from ancient modality to the tonality that signalled the dawn of the Baroque aesthetic.

As well as commemorating the central figure of Josquin des Prez (1440-1521), this set includes many other major works of the Franco-Flemish School, encompassing the various genres illustrated and developed by its members – secular songs in fixed or free form, motets, polyphonic Masses, psalm settings, and so on. These compositions are captured in all their striking beauty by such renowned performers as the Ensemble Gilles Binchois, Taverner Consort, The Hilliard Ensemble and The King’s Singers.

Polyphony at its peak, the proximity of the sacred and the profane and an astonishing modernity of thought – all these qualities explain why this music still has such immediacy for us today.

2021 marks the 500th anniversary of Josquin des Prez’s death on 27 August (c.1440-1521). His stature reflects the prestige enjoyed by the Franco-Flemish School in the European music scene of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

In addition to its existing French lands, the Duchy’s possessions also eventually included the duchies of Bar, Lorraine, Luxembourg and Brabant, and the counties of Nevers, Rethel, Artois and Vermandois. The Franco-Flemish School takes its name from this vast expanse of territory. Architecture, sculpture, painting and music all benefited from Burgundian ambition and together disseminated a new vision of art throughout Europe as the continent moved into the era of humanism and the Renaissance.

In that vision mankind was considered as the peak of Divine Creation, and the duty of art was to glorify both human intelligence and its application to the creative act. On a musical level it was also seeking to communicate with the greatest number of people: this led to the development of a new kind of polyphonic song designed and adapted for private practice.

That rich artistic movement has been a pillar of the music history in several aspects: vocal, instrumental, sacred (masses, motets…), secular (chansons, dances, madrigals…)

This 34-CD box exemplifies all these aspects through a large panel of characteristic composers around Josquin des Prez: Gilles Binchois (c.1400-1460), Guillaume Dufay (1397-1474), Johannes Ockeghem (c.1410-1497), Heinrich Isaac (c.1450-1571), Pierre de La Rue (1460-1518), Thomas Crecquillon (c.1505-after1557), Philippe de Monte (1521-1603), Adrian Willaert (1490-1562), Roland de la Lassus (1532-1594), Giaches de Wert (1535-1596) and many others.

These works, too little known, are here performed by a splendid ensemble cast, all pioneers in the historically informed movement: Ensemble Gilles Binchois, Hilliard Ensemble, King’s Singers, Early Music Consort of London, Syntagma Musicum…

This 34-CD box encompasses benchmark recordings and includes 7 albums available for the first time on CD – remastered from original tapes by Studio Art & Son, Annecy.


Composer Info

Josquin des Prez (1440-1521), Gilles Binchois (c.1400-1460), Guillaume Dufay (1397-1474), Johannes Ockeghem (c.1410-1497), Heinrich Isaac (c.1450-1571), Pierre de La Rue (1460-1518), Thomas Crecquillon (c.1505-after1557), Philippe de Monte (1521-1603), Adrian Willaert (1490-1562), Roland de la Lassus (1532-1594), Giaches de Wert (1535-1596)

CD Info

catalogue number 190296730849