Le musicien Josquin des Prés (1441-1521) a-t-il trouvé l’inspiration sur un coup de dés ? Serait-il le précurseur de l’aléatoire en musique ? Pas vraiment, la composition de cette "Messe di dadi" (Messe des dés) ne doit rien au hasard mais plutôt à un système de combinaisons par numéros inscrit dans la partition ou confié aux chanteurs. Œuvre de jeunesse (1473-75), la messe repose sur la chanson de Robert Morton "N’aray je jamais mieuls". Josquin essaye différents styles et méthodes qu’il reprendra plus tard dans sa maturité. La Messe "Une mousse de Biscaye", première messe du compositeur, est aussi basée sur un air profane, dialogue entre un garçon et une jeune fille (la mousse du castillan Moza, la Biscaye étant une province du nord de l’Espagne). Josquin module à loisir au gré des réparties des deux personnages, des ambiguïtés de leur échange, n’excluant pas dissonances et résolutions troublantes au vu des normes de l’époque. Ces deux messes très narratives à l’écriture particulièrement sophistiquée, très représentatives de l’esprit du temps (tout comme l’extraordinaire peinture de Canavesio qui orne la pochette) complètent et parachèvent le cycle des enregistrements des messes de Josquin par les Tallis Scholars chez le même éditeur. (Jérôme Angouillant)
There are various theories as to why pictures of dice are included in the score of Josquin's Missa Di dadi. At first sight the dice are nothing more than indicators to the tenors as to how to distribute the notes of the chanson, on which the Mass is based, into their part. For example the Kyrie is preceded by a pair of dice showing two and one, which tells the singers that the note-lengths of the chanson need to be doubled in order to fit with the other three voice parts. In the Gloria the dice read four and one, requiring the notes of the chanson to be quadrupled in length. Josquin is likely to have written the Mass in Milan in the late 15th Century which is known to have been a hot-house for gambling. Perhaps the dice are there simply to amuse a wealthy patron or confuse the singers. Other explanations have turned to the text of the chanson: "Shall I never have better than I have?" Is it a gambler's gripe? Or a lover's complaint? Or is it the languishing soul's plea for redemption? Perhaps Josquin simply threw dice to establish his compositional scheme. Whatever the answer, the reason for the dice seems to be important. When Petrucci published the Missa Di dadi in 1514 he included the dice even though the tenor part is resolved and printed in full. This is the sixth of nine albums in The Tallis Scholars' project to record all Josquin's masses. Peter Phillips said: "I chose to record all Josquin's masses partly because The Tallis Scholars have been associated with his music for their entire career, and partly because his masses make the best possible project. 19 masses over nine discs is manageable - where Palestrina's 107 masses is not - while their scoring sets them apart in Josquin's output. Nowhere else did he concentrate so specifically on four-part chamber-music-like writing, yet every Mass has its own individual sound world. I realised that in his masses Josquin had created a set of pieces of unique quality, designed to explore all the potential within the form, as Beethoven later did with the symphony. I wanted to gather them all together for the first time, so that the public can appreciate the scope of Josquin's genius." The Tallis Scholars' previous release in the series (Josquin's Missa De beata virgine and Missa Ave maris stella - CDGIM 044) won a Diapason d’Or de l’Année in 2012. Reviewing the album for CD review on BBC Radio 3, Andrew McGregor said: "There should always be a special place for this high flown perfection and the sense of timelessness it evokes." The first album in the series won the Gramophone Record of the Year Award in 1987. The new album also includes Josquin's Missa Une Mousse de Biscaye, thought to be Josquin's earliest Mass-setting dating from 1473-75. This Mass is also based on a secular melody.