John Dunstable, Tonus Peregrinus - Sweet Harmony: Masses And Motets

Published Thursday 27th October 2005
John Dunstable, Tonus Peregrinus - Sweet Harmony: Masses And Motets
John Dunstable, Tonus Peregrinus - Sweet Harmony: Masses And Motets

STYLE: Choral
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
LABEL: Naxos Early Music 8557341
RRP: £5.99

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

John who? For many years we were not even sure of his name as it is sometimes given as Dunstaple. Likewise, we do not even know for certain when he was born. Some time round 1390 seems most likely. So why should we care? Can you name an English composer earlier than Dunstable? And he is of more than local interest as he is arguably the forefather of the musical Renaissance. In the middle of the 15th century the poet Martin le Franc described how Dufay had adopted the English manner championed by Dunstable and how, to his ears, this new style of music sounded so fresh and so joyful. To say that without Dunstable there would have been no Tallis or Byrd is to overstate the case as surely someone would have had the same ideas as him sooner or later. But Dunstable got there first and took those first musical steps away from Medieval plainchant towards what we would recognise as vocal harmony. Under Antony Pitts Tonus Peregrinus have become a leading vocal ensemble and present Dunstable's work as beautifully as we could wish. The booklet notes are informative and the price is generous so there is no good reason not to investigate further.

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