Tonight, while listening to my latest favourite radio station, the third starion of Hrvatska radiotelevizija, I discovered Antoine Brumel.
I consider myself an early music lover. Perhaps I would even call myself somewhat of an aficionado of this music. I have read Music in the Renaissance by Gustav Reese, as well as the more recent Renaissance Music: Music in Western Europe, 1400-1600 by Allan Atlas, and yet, despite this, when this stunning music poured through my speakers, I was at a loss. As best as I could tell, I thought it was Thomas Tallis. It just had that kind of sound to it.
So I try to silence my toddler son who is jumping on a bed behind me, in the hopes that my rudimentary knowledge of Croatian will allow to find out who wrote this stunning piece. The fates smiled upon me, and I pierced the veil of unintelligibility long enough to determine that the piece I was listening to was an Agnus Dei by Antoine Brumel.
I've never heard of him.
So much for my self-proclaimed knowledge of the field. I suppose someone's going to want to confiscate my lute now...
Well, as any of us do these days when we know nothing but a rigid designator, or for your continental philosophy types, a name, I typed "Antoine Brumel" into google, and it delivered me right to his wikipedia entry.
Now, the big question - was what I was listening to in the Naxos Music Library? Could I pump this sweet, sweet aural liquor back into my system, to again bathe my senses in its rich broth?
Yes. It was there, in fact, it was the very recording I had been listening to on HRT, by the Tallis Scholars.
The mass I am listening to right now, the glorious, life giving bit of music, music everyone in the world should listen to, is the Missa Et ecce terrae motus, or Earthquake Mass.
Wikipedia also quickly reveals why I thought it was Tallis - the Earthquake Mass is for 12 voices, which was highly unusual for the time Brumel wrote it, if not outright unheard of. The richness reminded me of Tallis' famous Spem in alium, although the Tallis is 70 years younger, and as I listen now, it seems clearer, with the strangeness of the cadences, that we are not quite yet at the fulcrum that is Josquin, when things begin (I mean begin in the lightest possible way here) to turn towards the great aesthetic paradigm that emerged alongside probability, calculus and gravitational theory - western tonality, or the major/minor tonal system, or whatever you want to call it.
One day I will attempt to articulate in much greater detail what I mean by that, perhaps in an academic thesis, or perhaps here. Who knows.
But who cares about that. Enjoy the Brumel.