Blue Heron Releases Johannes Ockeghem: Complete Songs, Volume 2

The Boston-based vocal ensemble Blue Heron announces the release of Johannes Ockeghem: Complete Songs, Volume 2, the second recording resulting from the ensemble’s multi-season project to commemorate the circa-600th birthday of the great Franco-Flemish composer Johannes Ockeghem. Blue Heron launches an exclusive pre-release on Friday, April 12, the same day as the start of the “Ockeghem Weekend” set of concerts and special events celebrating this recording and the overall project. Naxos of America will distribute the new release beginning on May 3.

Johannes Ockeghem (c. 1420-1497) was one of the most celebrated musicians of the fifteenth century and one of the greatest composers of all time. Ockeghem was every bit the equal of J.S. Bach in contrapuntal technique and profound expressivity, and, like Bach, he combines the most rigorous intellectual structure with a beguiling sensuality. His two dozen songs set French lyric poetry to exquisitely crafted polyphony in which all voices are granted equally beautiful and compelling melodies.

According to Blue Heron’s artistic director, Scott Metcalfe, “If you haven’t yet fallen in love with Ockeghem’s music, the songs may prove a revelation. Each one is a gem – of art, expressivity, wit, poise, elegance, and craft. There is not one I do not hear over and over and find new wonders on each listening.”

Blue Heron’s project to record all of Ockeghem’s songs bore its first fruits in 2019 with the release of Johannes Ockeghem: Complete Songs, Volume I, which was named to the Bestenliste of the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (German Record Critics’ Award) and selected as a Notable Recording of 2019 by The New Yorker. The New York Times hailed Blue Heron as an “outstanding early-music ensemble,” while Gramophone complimented the performances for their “absolute clarity, beautifully in tune, beautifully balanced and beautifully recorded.” Early Music enthused that “the Boston-based ensemble is at its finest—a summit quite sublime.… The group’s extraordinary rapport with the music is evident everywhere in the recording; each melodic line is not only clear and precise but also imbued with obvious affection.”

Besides twelve of Ockeghem’s songs, the disc includes two related works (Gilles Binchois’s Pour prison, quoted by Ockeghem in his song La despourveue, and Johannes Cornago’s Qu’es mi vida, for which Ockeghem composed two alternate parts) and an anonymous instrumental arrangement of Ockeghem’s Je n’ay dueil.

Track Titles

  1. Prenez sur moi votre exemple amoureux
    2. Tant fuz gentement resjouy
    3. Ung aultre l’a, n’en querés plus
    4. Baisiés moy dont fort, ma maistresse
    5. Gilles Binchois Pour prison ne pour maladie
    6. La despourveue et la bannye
    7. L’autre d’antan, l’autrier passa
    8. Ma bouche rit et ma pensée pleure
    9. Presque transi, ung peu mains qu’estre mort
    10. Les desloyaulx ont la saison
    11. Je n’ay dueil que je ne suis morte
    12. Je n’ay dueil arr. anonymous
    13. Il ne m’en chault plus de nul ame
    14. Johannes Cornago ¿Qu’es mi vida preguntays?
    15. Johannes Cornago/Johannes Ockeghem ¿Qu’es mi vida preguntays?

Cody Bowers, Kim Leeds, Sophie Michaux, Reginald Mobley, Margot Rood, cantus
Jason McStoots, Aaron Sheehan, Sumner Thompson, tenor
Paul Guttry, Steven Hrycelak, David McFerrin, bassus
Anna Danilevskaia, vihuela de arco
Laura Jeppesen, fiddle
Debra Nagy, douçaine
Scott Metcalfe, artistic director, harp & fiddle

Dark Horse Consort

Alexandra Opsahl, cornetto; Greg Ingles, trombone; Erik Schmalz, trombone; Mack Ramsey, trombone

About Blue Heron
BLUE HERON 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 its “expressive intensity.” The ensemble ranges over a wide repertoire from plainchant to new music, with particular specialties in 15th-century Franco-Flemish polyphony and early 16th-century English sacred music, and is committed to vivid live performance informed by the study of original source materials and historical performance practices. Blue Heron offers a catalog of twelve recordings and is the only group outside of Europe to receive the Gramophone Classical Music Award for Early Music (2018). Blue Heron’s CD Johannes Ockeghem: Complete Songs, Volume I was named to the first Bestenliste (Quarterly Critics’ Choice) of 2020 by the prestigious Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (German Record Critics’ Award). Its multi-season project to perform the complete works of the great 15th-century composer Johannes Ockeghem, Ockeghem@600, wound up in March 2023, making Blue Heron the only ensemble in North America, quite possibly anywhere in the world, to have accomplished this feat.

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