Monday, December 30, 2013

Jean Maillard: A renaissance composer rediscovered

Jean Maillard:
Missa Je Suis Deheritee & Motets
The Marian Consort; Rory McCleery, director
Delphian Records

Jean Maillard was a student of Josquin des Prez, and his music inspired Palestrina. Although little-known today, this French composer's music was highly regarded by his contemporaries. And listening to these performances by the Marian Consort, it's easy to understand why.

Maillard carefully and tastefully builds his contrapuntal compositions in a manner similar to Palestrina, although with a lighter touch. The primary work on this album, the Missa Je suis Desheritee is one of Maillard's largest works, and the most popular during his lifetime. It, like the motets interspersed throughout, show a composer in full command of his talent, able to create ethereal cathedrals from pure sound.

The Marian Consort has a uniform clarity of tone that's well-suited to these works. The ensemble blend is quite smooth throughout, although at times the sopranos seemed to have a slight edge to their voices (especially after a wide upwards leap).

All in all, though, this is a disc that should be in the collection of anyone who loves renaissance sacred music. Maillard may be the link between Des Pres and Palestrina, but he has a style all his own.

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