The Brabant Ensemble takes its name from the corner of northern Belgium and southern Netherlands that—as the Duchy of Brabant—hosted a remarkable flowering of compositional innovation in the generation 1520–1560. Under the watchful eye of their eminent musicologist–director Dr Stephen Rice, this talented group’s first excursion into this fertile seam of virgin repertoire surveyed the music of Thomas Crecquillon and won a host of warm accolades. This second recording turns to the lesser-known figure of Pierre de Manchicourt, a master whose neglect seems all the more extraordinary once his output and contemporary renown are explored. Free from the dense textures and complexities which could be associated with the repertoire of this period, we find in Manchicourt music which at once combines melodic invention and astonishing rhythmic ingenuity within a whole of refreshing accessibility. The programme is centred on his Missa Cuidez vous que Dieu nous faille which is presented alongside its eponymous model, a chanson by Jean Richafort. In addition we have several of his sacred motets (for varying voice combinations) and his only setting of the Magnificat.
'The music is typical of the high Renaissance, influenced by Josquin and close to the style of Gombert; the Brabant performances all have a wonderful fluency and rhythmic clarity' (The Guardian)
'A must-have disc from the Brabant Ensemble … First-rate music stirs this young ensemble to their finest disc yet' (Gramophone)
'... The brilliant Easter exultation of Regina caeli is created by Manchicourt's ingenious combination of intricate canonic writing with exciting syncopated rhythms … The Brabant Ensemble's committed and responsive performances' (Daily Telegraph)
'I was amazed … There is really excellent music here' (Early Music Review)