By Alec Robertson
JOHANNES OCK EGH ISM, by Ernst ICrenek (Sheed and Ward, 7s. 6d.).
THIS book is the first one of a series, published under the general title of Great Religious Composers, which is to include Lassus and Machaut, and has John -Becker as editor.
The aim of the series is "to interest the general public, as well as those persons responsible for church music, in the rich treasures of the past so that this music and these composers may again become a part of the living present."
It is a worthy aim, if an optimistic one, in view of the deplorable state of church music at the present time, and we must hope for its fulfilment.
Mr. Krcnek, a well-known Austrian composer now living in Los Angeles who has done some extensive reseArch work on plainsong, writes clearly and interestingly about Ockeghem and his tunes, and skilfully avoids the use of technical terms in his discussion of the composer's works and the musical idioms of the 15th century.
I am not, however, convinced that he was wise to omit musical illustrations. Some details could be challenged. America certainly has no Third Programme. but surely it cannot be true that "only three or four [of Palestrina's compositions] are known to the initiated." A fair number, at any rate, are available there now on longplaying records.
Ockeghem has fared less well. Neither of the two records mentioned in the bibliography in this hook is easily procurable in this country : but the Kyrie from his Mass, Fors Seulement is included in the third volume of the new H.M.V. History of lvlusk in Sound, may be bought separately.
Choirmasters might also like to know of the Mass Mi-Mi, published in a practical edition by Moseler (1950). but not mentioned in Mr. Krcnek's bibliography or in the text in which he explains the significance of the odd title.
These are small but not unimportant matters in assuring the success of this valuable project.