Missa D’ung aultre amer

Josquin’s shortest mass setting contains a moving musical tribute to his teacher Johannes Ockeghem.

Missa D’ung aultre amer is somewhat of an odd­ball in Josquin’s mass corpus. It is by some measure his shortest mass—numbering 364 bars, where all the others have over 500; and the longest, De beata virgine, 882. This brevity comes from a syllabic style, especially in the Gloria and Credo where the texts are telescoped so that different sections overlap and are sung at the same time. The Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei show greater freedom, though the phrases are short; most unusually the Kyrie is longer than the Gloria. This style probably comes from the polyphonic lauda current in the Ambrosian rite of Milan, where Josquin worked during the 1480s. This rite also had the convention of substituting a motet for the Benedictus and second “Hosanna,” missing here and replaced by Tu solus qui facis mirabilia.

Tu solus qui facis is made up of perfectly located chords, solemn and resonant, that create an unparalleled atmosphere of calm and introspection.

This setting lacks the space to indulge in polyphonic elaboration or sonic display. There are no duets (all three Agnuses, for example, are both very brief and full) or canons or added voices. The interest for once is focused on simple chords, and nowhere more than in the motet Tu solus qui facis. Simple chords should be easier to write than complex polyphony, and yet plenty of composers down the years have shown how easily this kind of music becomes predictable and tedious. Tu solus qui facis, however, is made up of perfectly located chords, solemn and resonant, that create an unparalleled atmosphere of calm and introspection.

Behind these chords, and indeed behind much of the detail in the rest of the setting, is the chanson D’ung aultre amer by Johannes Ockeghem. This was important for Josquin, who revered Ockeghem more than anyone. He intended a tribute to him which, even when the liturgy demanded restraint, shows he was equal to any challenge.

© Peter Phillips / Gimell Records

Ockeghem_Premier Chapellain Chapelle Royal_Paris 1523_BNF.jpg

Johannes Ockeghem (dressed in red) as “premier chappellain” of the French Royal Chapel, 1523 (© Wikimedia Commons)

The Masses

The Masses

Jan van Eyck, The Ghent Altar (1432, detail) © artinflanders.be (photo: Hugo Maertens, Dominique Provost)

Josquin wrote 18 mass settings during his lifetime and created a unique compositional method and sound world for each of them. Discover the richness and diversity of the masses through The Tallis Scholars’ award-winning recordings and essays by their founder and artistic director, Peter Phillips.

Missa Une mousse de Biscaye

Probably one of the first mass settings Josquin ever wrote, Missa Une mousse de Biscaye perhaps shows the late-medieval origins of his musical language more clearly than any other of his masses.

Missa L’ami Baudichon

The early Missa L’ami Baudichon shows the young composer at the beginning of his career, exploring what he could do with the form.

Missa Ad fugam

Composing complex canons was a hallmark of excellence for every 15th-century composer. Josquin wrote two entirely canonic masses—Ad fugam, the earlier one, may be his most rigid and mathematically dense composition.

Missa Di dadi

Can a Renaissance mass be composed by the throw of dice? Missa Di dadi shows Josquin’s passion for mathematical shenanigans—and for gambling.

Missa D’ung aultre amer

Josquin’s shortest mass setting is based on a melody by his revered teacher Johannes Ockeghem and contains a moving musical tribute to the older composer.

Missa Gaudeamus

Missa Gaudeamus represents Renaissance artistry at its most intense. Based on a substantial chant melody, it deploys mathematics in a number of clever, but rewardingly audible ways.

Missa La sol fa re mi

True to its name, Missa La sol fa re mi is based entirely on the notes represented by these five solmization syllables on the medieval scale. By choosing a model so brief and versatile, Josquin opened up a completely new world of musical referencing.

Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae

While he was working at the court of Ferrara, Italy, Josquin wrote an entire mass setting based on the name of his employer, Duke Ercole I.

Missa Faysant regretz

Building on the simplest four-note motif imaginable, Josquin creates some of his most densely argued and thrilling polyphony in the Missa Faysant regretz—a world of protean, swirling references and repetitions.

Missa Ave maris stella

Compact, smooth, concise—Missa Ave maris stella is the work of an assured and self-confident composer who has not only mastered the tools of his trade but redefines them for future generations.

Missa Fortuna desperata

The Wheel of Fortune is turning in Josquin’s mind-bending Missa Fortuna desperata, one of the first masses to be based on a polyphonic model rather than a simple melody.

Missa L’homme armé super voces musicales

Missa L’homme armé super voces musicales contains some of Josquin’s most complex compositional mathematics—a demonstration of his combinatorial prowess and a true miracle to his contemporaries.

Missa L’homme armé sexti toni

With its great variety of textures and easy-going yet sublime canons, Josquin’s second mass based on the popular “L’homme armé” melody feels like fantasia on the theme of the armed man, evoking minimalist sound worlds à la Philip Glass.

Missa Malheur me bat

In many of Josquin’s mass-settings the musical development culminates in the final movement—not unlike a Romantic symphony: the Agnus Dei of Missa Malheur me bat is a magnificent example and one of the greatest tours de force in the repertoire.

Missa Sine nomine

Josquin’s “nameless” mass is his second entirely canonic setting and shows the fruits of his experience in mathematical writing.

Missa De beata virgine

During his lifetime, this was the most frequently performed piece that Josquin had ever written—and it kept fascinating music scholars as far removed from Josquin’s time as the 18th century.

Missa Mater Patris

Missa Mater Patris exemplifies Josquin’s late-in-life, daring simplicity: gone is the dense polyphonic argument—instead we hear light, open textures delivered with a good deal of wit, even playfulness.

Missa Pange lingua

It is probably Josquin’s last mass setting—but it definitely is one of his best: the way Missa Pange lingua realizes a democratic conversation between all four voice parts had profound repercussions for later Renaissance music throughout Europe.