Post by Todd Michel McComb
So 2021 is the 500th anniversary of the death of Josquin Desprez.
According to some people, he's the greatest composer in Western music
history. I don't have any particular interest in engaging with that
debate per se, and don't necessarily even consider him to be the best of
his era myself, but did want to contextualize the anniversary....
Are there people here who will be interested and/or following the
releases? I hope there are many releases. There have been a few
already, and my intent is to review all of them (well, depending on
volume & perhaps not if done in a modern style, etc.)....
This is far from symbolic for me. Pace discussions elsewhere in this
group (to which I often cannot relate), I'd say that much of Josquin's
best music has received mediocre (at best) renditions to this point.
Getting the understanding together AND getting the vocal technique
together has taken a long time. To this point, pace the other
conversation, I'd say most of "the music" (in the abstract/silly Kantian
or Platonic sense) has been left on the page -- so to speak. Some gets
I've been eager for improved performances around this repertory for a
long time, and am hoping the anniversary will spur much. I mean,
things have continued to improve, slowly....
Stumbled upon this discussion and thought I'd join, as I am among those
excited about the possibility of many new Josquin recordings... Mostly I
hope we get some good motet collections, which I like much more than the
masses - but also, in masses, we already have the Tetsuro Hanai complete
set, which, merely by virtue of adhering to Rebecca Stewart's 'modal
singing' idea (and I should note those recordings are much more 'modal,'
in the Stewartian sense, than the Tetsuro Hanai video linked below), is so
much more satisfying than current alternatives that it's hard to imagine
new mass recordings sustaining interest. Since contextualizing 'modal
singing' via Stewart's mini-manifesto (http://cantusmodalis.org/, on the
off chance you haven't read it), I've become hyper-aware of how little
other supposedly radical performance aesthetics (Beauty Farm,
Graindelavoix) actually challenge certain underlying assumptions around
vocal technique embedded in the generic/ahistorical 'early music voice'...
And, as one final note about modal singing, the Josquin anniversary
project I'm most excited for is actually one that Stewart herself is
working on, which unfortunately may be delayed or canceled due to Covid...
All that said, I, too, would be delighted with a Beauty Farm or a
Graindelavoix Josquin, which would be plenty enjoyable in their own right!