Recording information: Musikwerkstatt Schlosspark Ebnet, Freiburg i. Brsg., Th (01/2002).
A sixteenth-century discovery!
Where has Jacobus Vaet been hiding all my life? He was contemporary to Palestrina and Lassus, but I'd never heard of him before I opened this disc, nor is he listed in my old Schwann catalog (one of the last ones printed). This is the first disc of a series of his work by the all-male Dufay Ensemble. I didn't know them, either, but I like their sound: solid basses to anchor the texture, and a very good countertenor on top. The main work here is the "Missa pro Defunctis," a first recording when this disc was originally issued in 2002. Unusually for a Requiem Mass, it is based on themes from one of the composer's motets; also, there is no Diea Irae. Among the motets, "A solis ortus cardinae" and "Ave maris stella" begin with the original chant setting, then alternating verses are elaborated polyphonically. The way the voice parts cross makes for some interesting harmonic twists, and I count him a find. Texts are only in Latin and German.
Submitted on 07/19/10 by Jim D.
Vaet Vol 1 Missa pro defunctis Ars Musici 232354
The Renaissance composer Jacobus Vaet (1529c-1567) was born in Courtrai (a.k.a. Kortrijk) in what is now the Flemish part of Belgium. In his day he was well known and well respected, yet today he and his music are almost forgotten, while the music of two of his contemporaries, the Italian Giovanni Perluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594) and the Flemish Roland de Lassus (a.k.a. Orlando di Lasso) (1532-1594) are very popular. By way of comparison, the Naxos Music Library, which contains (as of July, 2010) nearly 45,000 CDs, contains at least 60 CDs featuring Palestrina's music, many of which are devoted solely to him. Lassus is similarly popular, with over 40 CDs featuring his music, yet the Library contains only four CDs of the music of Vaet. Why?
There are no simple answers to this question. One possibility is that Vaet lived for only 38 years, whereas Lassus and Palestrina had long lives, but this cannot be the only reason. Mozart died at age 36, yet he enjoys, posthumously, unabated worldwide popularity. A more likely explanation is the public's fickleness. Their tastes change, seemingly at random. After their deaths, Vivaldi was forgotten and Telemann dismissed as a prolific but superficial scribbler. Mid-twentieth-century music lovers suddenly "discovered" Vivaldi, and decided that Telemann was anything but superficial, and today much of their music is available on CD.
Perhaps Vaet's star is again ascending. Based on this CD, I hope so. Vaet's "Missa pro defunctis," one of ten masses that he composed, contains several unusual features. For example, he quotes his own motet "Filiae Jerusalem" in several sections, and he omits the "Dies irae" but adds the "Tractus" (not unusual for the time) plus the rarely included "Ne recorderis" sections. This most unusual work should therefore be heard by all who love requiems, all the more so because the recording is superb, with excellent singing and a sensitive interpretation. The well-written program notes complement this excellent CD.
Submitted on 08/02/10 by Ted Wilks