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GRAMOPHONE (07/2022)
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Reviewer :
Edward Breen

Josquin has long been established as a preeminent oltremontano – a northern European composer who crossed over the mountains into Italy. Recent scholarship, however, suggests he spent much more time on his original side of the Alps than was initially thought. This new album from Doulce Mémoire – the first since their unforgettably superb ‘Leonardo da Vinci: La musique secrète’ (Alpha, 7/19) – largely explores songs from Josquin’s French years. Furthermore, Denis Raisin Dadre has searched original folk anthologies to restore missing verses to several works, notably ‘Tant vous aime’. In another instance he has matched the poem ‘Une jeune fillette’ to Josquin’s ‘Comment peult avoir joye’.


Opening with an early song, ‘Si je perdoys mon amy/Par ung matin m’y levay’ (‘I have lost my friend/One morning I arose’), Dadre has taken lyrics from the Bayeux manuscript. Here, as throughout this album, one is immediately charmed by the voice of Clara Coutouly, whose gently mournful first verse leads first to a duet then to full ensemble as the bittersweetness of the poem unfolds. The architecture of this track is delightful – nimble, knowing and quick-witted – and it sums up the album aptly: a charming and gripping performance that tells a story.


Among the small group of Italian songs that are represented here, I particularly enjoyed both Compère’s and Josquin’s settings of the popular song ‘Scaramella’. The instrumental playing in Compère’s version is snappy and precise, but I prefer a vocal top line such as with The Orlando Consort (Metronome, 6/94). Josquin’s ‘Scaramella’ is performed with a Munrow-esque verve (cf ‘The Art of the Netherlands’ – Erato, 11/76) but his infamous ‘El grillo’ (‘The Cricket’) I enjoyed less for its forced jollity. There’s so much to explore here, especially among the French songs, and it’s supported by a superbly informative note by David Fallows. This could be one of my favourite secular Josquin discs in recent years.

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