For its third CD on the Challenge label, Cappella Pratensis turns the page back to the very beginnings of the tradition of settings of the Requiem mass. The Requiems by Johannes Ockeghem (c. 1410-1497) and Pierre de la Rue (c. 1452-1518) form an ideal pairing, as they are the first polyphonic versions of the Mass for the Dead from the brilliant composers of the Franco-Flemish school. La Rue clearly drew inspiration from his older colleague, echoing Ockeghem's sober yet sonorous style.
Both works were praised in their time, with Ockeghem's described as "exquise et très parfaicte" (exquisite and most perfect) and La Rue's as "die klangvollste Musik, die man hören konnte" (the most harmonious music you could ever hear). It is clear that these composers reserved their richest inspiration for the setting of a text that was so deep that few dared to stray from the purity of the Gregorian Chant version.
By bringing these two works together, Cappella Pratensis offers not only the chance to hear the beginning of one of the great traditions in Western art-music, but also two profound musical translations of the words of consolation that mark the passing of our fellow travellers in life.