There are two things I can count on: blue-chip stocks, and Blue Heron recordings. The former retain their value year after year. The latter produces top-flight recordings.
This new release is no exception. It’s the first installment of a new series, traversing the songs of 15th Century composer Johannes Ockeghem.
Ockeghem was one of the most influential composers of his day and an important member of the Netherlandish School.
This release features eleven of Ockegem’s secular songs. The texts come from French court poetry. Ockeghem’s music infuses these mannered texts with vitality.
Blue Heron performs to their usual high standards. Their balance between blended voices and individual singers is perfect. I could trace the threads of Ockeghem’s complex counterpoint, while still enjoying the overall effect of the music.
Some tracks have instrumental support, though of a limited form. This helps vary the program and adds to the overall listening experience.
Blue Heron continually explores the early music repertoire for the unusual and under-performed. According to their website, the ensemble will be performing Ockegem’s complete works over a series of thirteen concerts. I don’t know how many CDs that translates into, but I’m in.
Johannes Ockeghem: Complete Songs, Vol. 1
Blue Heron; Scott Metcalfe, director
Blue Heron BHCD 1010