Clemencic Consort · Choralschola der Wiener Hofburgkapelle
René Clemencic, artistic director, Baroque organ positive, harpsichord
The cathedral of Tournai in Belgium is one of the most impressive and significant in
Europe and has been designated by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage. Music history
was written here: the cathedral library contains the manuscript of a polyphonic mass
ordinary compiled around the year 1300 which unites movements by various composers
and written in different styles. This makes it the direct predecessor of the first
masses written by single composers, such as the Messe de Nostre Dame by Guillaume de Machaut.
René Clemencic, the great music researcher and interpreter of medieval music, performs the Messe de Tournai along with additional one-voice and polyphonic pieces from the Spanish Codex Musical de las Huelgas. The musicians of the Clemencic Consort bring to life a musical
epoch which still fascinates us today with its wealth of stylistic variety and delightful discoveries.
LA MESSE DE TOURNAI
CODEX MUSICAL DE LAS HUELGAS
This recording reconstructs an office of the
mass from the first half of the 14th century.
Its primary focus is on that polyphonic mass
ordinary from circa 1300 preserved in a manuscript
in the cathedral of Tournai in Belgium.
The copyist retained by the cathedral seven
centuries ago took pieces by various composers,
even from different epochs and styles,
and included them in one manuscript, a procedure
which seems to correspond to the slowly
developing consciousness for the necessity
of a complete polyphonic mass ordinary.
This tendency didn’t prevail, however, until
the first half of the 15th century. At the end
of the 14th century, one composer, Guillaume
de Machault, seems to have aspired to such
compositional unity, but his successors did
not continue consequently in this vein.
Stylistically, the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus of
the Mass of Tournai appear to have been written
at the end of the 13th century, as they use
the modal rhythms typical for that time. The syllabic
Credo is very reminiscent of conductus.
The freely moving Gloria uses some principles
of the motet without really being one. Its Amen
includes hocket, the “hiccup” technique which
splits up melodic lines among various voices.
The three-voice Ite missa est is a bilingual motet;
a late Medieval amalgamation of contradictions,
a union of the heterogeneous, acoustic synchronicity
of completely different worlds. The triplum,
or top voice, sings a French love song, the motetus,
or middle voice, sings a moralizing Latin text,
and the tenor cites a fragment of a Gregorian
melody using the isorhythmic technique, in
which a rhythmic model is repeated once (as
here) or sometimes a number of times.
In addition to the polyphonic mass ordinary,
we also bring one-voice Gregorian melodies of
the mass proper to life as well as a series of oneor
more-voice sacred works, performing them
both vocally and instrumentally as they were
once played in ceremonial worship services.
With the exception of the motet by Philippe
de Vitry, all pieces come from the Codex Musical
de las Huelgas. Compiled around 1300 in
Spain, this collection is an important source
of European polyphonic music from the beginning
of the 14th century.
The manuscript contains a number of compositions
from the Notre Dame school and its
successors. In addition to three-part organum
and conductus, we also find here two- and
three-voice motets, one- and two-voice prose
settings as well as sequence-like pieces with
melodic repetitions of various lines.
Translation: Elizabeth Gahbler
Booklet: Danielea Klemencic
"Service Relations Extérieures Ville de Tournai"