Guillaume Du Fay: motets, hymns, chansons, sanctus papale

by Blue Heron



Blue Heron’s first CD offers an entrancing selection of music by the greatest composer of the 15th century, Guillaume Du Fay (1397-1474). The program includes three isorhythmic motets (Apostolo glorioso, Rite majorem Jacobum canamus, and Ecclesie militantis), the glorious, large-scale Sanctus “Papale” in its first recording in three decades, two hymns with alternatim plainchant verses, and a generous sampling of secular songs. While the disc is mostly devoted to the music of Du Fay, it also includes a song by Du Fay’s contemporary Hugo de Lantins (Mon doulx espoir), and a marvelous motet-chanson by his friend and colleague of the next generation, Johannes Ockeghem (Permanent vierge). The music was recorded in September 2006 at the Church of the Redeemer in Chestnut Hill.


"Blue Heron's qualities include transparency of tone without the perception of too much intellectually imposed constraint. In other words, their performances are highly enjoyable. Masterpieces such as Mon cuer me fait tous dis penser have a sense of freedom and airy lightness which is very appealing, with all of those delicious moments savoured without being overly lingered upon. There is a lot of individual colour between the voices in this ensemble, but somehow it all works splendidly. Timbres are allowed to emerge from the music with a natural feel but have also been carefully considered. You don't sense it as effort, but a lot of work has gone into creating these sounds, and I for one feel privileged to be able to revel in such a subtly shaped set of performances.
"Collectively this is a very fine programme. The risk with such an endeavour is that things start to sound too much the same from beginning to end, but this is the kind of recording that makes you sit up and pay attention - here from a moment of beautiful stillness, there from some sparing notes from an instrument or a special antiphonal effect - there is plenty that is memorable here, and always the anticipation of something juicy to relish just around the corner. You can't ask much more than that from a CD."
Dominy Clements, MusicWeb International | Dec.18, 2015

"The Du Fay discography continues to grow apace: the number of groups regularly performing his music and their quality are truly astonishing. One of the most impressive of these discs to have come my way lately is a collection by the American ensemble Blue Heron, under Scott Metcalfe, Guillaume Du Fay: Motets, Hymns and Chansons. ... Blue Heron produces a wonderfully clear sound that is nevertheless not lacking in depth, and the highlights of the recording—in that they display these qualities to perfection—are the so-called ‘Sanctus Papale’ (the Sanctus ‘Ave verum corpus’, possibly written for the consecration of Santa Maria dei Fiore in Florence in 1436) and Rite majorem, in honour of St James. The chansons are also beautifully sung, by smaller groups, but again with a pleasingly full sound. An extremely impressive recorded debut."
Ivan Moody, Early Music (UK) | August 2008

"…glorious performances with incandescent singing … perfect blend and balance … a triumph…"
Craig Zeichner, Early Music America | Fall 2007

"The most attractive aspect of this recital is its feeling of immediacy and freshness.… For me, the high points are the Sanctus Papale, for which it is very welcome to have such a confident and poised rendition; and some of the later songs, for example Malheureux cuer, que veux tu faire, and the cheeky Puisque vous estez campieur… More, please."
Fabrice Fitch, Goldberg | August/September 2007

"This debut marks Blue Heron as a leading new actor in the field of early Renaissance music, both for studying the sources and bringing them to life.
Altogether, this is one of the finest Dufay collections to come out in recent years…"
J. F. Weber, Fanfare | September/October 2007

"…clarity of texture and intonation … interesting and well performed … excellent recording …"
Charles E. Brewer, American Record Guide | September/October 2007


released March 1, 2007

Engineering and mastering: Joel Gordon
Producers: Eric Milnes & Scott Metcalfe
Editing: Eric Milnes & Joel Gordon
Graphic design: Pete Goldlust
Cover image copyright John Grant, Red and white dahlia



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Blue Heron Boston, Massachusetts

Blue Heron, directed by Scott Metcalfe, has been acclaimed by The Boston Globe as “one of the Boston music community’s indispensables” and hailed by Alex Ross in The New Yorker for the “expressive intensity” of its interpretations; the Boston Musical Intelligencer calls Blue Heron “a fantastic model for the fully-realized potential of early music performance in the 21st century.” ... more

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Track Name: Flos florum
Flos florum, fons hortorum, regina polorum,
spes venie, lux letitie, medicina dolorum,
virga recens et virgo decens, forma bonorum:
parce reis et opem fer eis
in pace piorum,
pasce tuos, succure tuis,
miserere tuorum.

Flower of flowers, fount of gardens, queen of the
heavens, hope of pardon, light of joy, remedy of
sorrows, a fresh branch and seemly virgin, model of
goodness: spare the guilty and bring them a reward
through the peace of the righteous,
feed thine own, succour thine own,
have mercy upon thine own