Alexander Agricola: Missa In Myne Zyn / Snellings, Capilla Flamenca

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AGRICOLA Missa In myne Zyn. In minen sin. Sy j’aime mon amy. Pater meus agricola est. Regina caeli. ANON Bien soiez venu. In mynen zin...

AGRICOLA Missa In myne Zyn. In minen sin. Sy j’aime mon amy. Pater meus agricola est. Regina caeli. ANON Bien soiez venu. In mynen zin Dirk Snellings, dir; Capilla Flamenca RICERCAR RIC 306 (59:50 Text and Translation)

Alexander Agricola (1456?–1506) is characterized in the notes to this disc as a mannerist. It is curious to see a late-15th-century composer receiving the same categorization as contemporaries of Ciconia at the end of the 14th century and contemporaries of Gesualdo at the end of the 16th century. This end-of-century phenomenon hardly occurred during the Gay 90s (Mahler the Mannerist?). On an earlier disc ( Fanfare 23: 1), Paul van Nevel referred in the same vein to the “secret labyrinth” of the composer’s music. His disc assembled a Mass made up of single movements of five of Agricola’s settings, with the Agnus Dei taken from the Mass heard here. (He called it a “Missa Guazzabuglio,” which I would have recognized as “mishmash” if I had looked it up.)

This new version is quite a contrast to its first complete recording under János Bali, who on two CDs gave us the composer’s four Masses on secular cantus firmi (29:1 for the later one). Both directors use adult male voices (van Nevel put two women on the top line), but Bali had an ensemble of 13 voices, while Dirk Snellings uses one voice to a part. Instead of presenting the Mass straight through, Snellings tries to put it into some kind of context, though not a liturgical one. The preliminary tracks include the Dutch tune and the composer’s polyphonic elaboration of it, while two tracks characterized as Vespers include an instrumental piece and a Regina caeli . The Mass is interleaved with Agricola’s instrumental versions of songs by Binchois, Ockeghem, and Frye. This arrangement offers more variety than sense.

This is rightly called the most extended of Agricola’s Masses, for at nearly 40 minutes without a Kyrie (assumed to have been written but lost) it ranks with Obrecht’s Missa Maria zart in length. The vocal ensemble contrasts with Bali’s small choir, but this does not put Bali at a disadvantage. If you have the latter already, you may decide that it is sufficient. Still, Snellings does consistent good work and this disc is a credit to him and his singers.

FANFARE: J. F. Weber

Product Description:

  • Release Date: October 12, 2010

  • UPC: 5400439003064

  • Catalog Number: RIC306

  • Label: Ricercar

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Composer: Alexander Agricola

  • Conductor: Dirk Snellings

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Capilla Flamenca

  • Performer: Snellings, Capilla Flamenca