Did I mention that everyone and their best friend had done a version of Alma Redemptoris Mater? I could almost fill a calendar with just this text.
I found this version, by Guillaume Dufay, when I was looking for the one by Hildegarde of Bingen, and I think it’s just gorgeous. It has that sound that we tend to associate with medieval music, which seems to be about open fifths, and lots of minor second intervals in the melody. This is really a late medieval /early renaissance sound – Hildegarde is more contemporary with the Crusades and other really bad medieval ideas.
I’d never heard of Dufay before this, so I went and did a little internet research and discovered that Dufay was a Netherlandish composer of the fifteenth century. This instantly makes me happy, because I am a bit of a Ricardian, and I know that Richard III spent a bit of time in the Netherlands when he was Richard of Gloucester, and this might have been the music he heard when he went to church there. So maybe I’m sharing a musical experience with my favourite Plantagenet monarch here.
But even if I’m not, this is wonderful music, and I will have to seek out more of Dufay’s work. I love the stillness in the solo sections and the clean, spare sound that somehow prevails even in the sections with the countermelody. Very gorgeous stuff.