David Green

David Green (Books) is the imprint under which I publish booklets of my own poems, or did. There might not be any more to come. We will have to see what happens but, having written The Perfect Book, there might not be anything else to do. Apart from that, the website has become what it is. I hope you find at least some of it worthwhile.

Monday, 14 January 2019

Patrick Hamilton - Impromptu in Moribundia

Patrick Hamilton, Impromptu in Moribundia (Abacus)

It's not really the done thing to review novels first published in 1939 but this has been hard to come by until re-issued by Abacus last year. It didn't come very highly recommended so I didn't even rush for it then. It is a satire very much in the tradition of Gulliver's Travels and, as such, different from Hamilton's usual constituency of the gin-soaked twilight world of London and Brighton boarding houses and the seedy downside of glamour.
We are off to an unpromising science fiction start with John Sadler being fired into deep space in the Asteradio, a tardis-cum-time machine, but once he lands in Moribundia we are in a familiar and transparently encoded version of 1930's London, Nwotsemaht, after which it will be preferable to refer to all these coded features by spelling them backwards.
Sadler finds it all very strange, from the balloons appearing in the air with the words people are speaking to rheumatism being visible on them by flashes of lightning. Luckily, all such ailments are immediately curable by wonderful products like Nourishine that are endorsed in thought bubbles by all that benefit from them. Nourishine is seen to transform the life and career of a stressed hotel receptionist, just like the adverts said it would.

As much of a story as Impromptu is, he only visits Moribundia for three months and then comes back so it consists of an episodic series of satirrical essays on, in turn, the upper classes, capitalism and advertising, the working classes and literature. Hamilton moved from Marxism to reactionary Conservatism but this work is even handed in satirising both privilege and the underclass, with the well-to-do upright, elegant and noble and the working class living dully repetitive lives with everything provided and nothing to wish for. Thus, for all the obvious targets, it is ambivalent and what at first seems to be a utopia is soon revealed as a dystopia and, as such, it is a better book than promised to be.
Hamilton's usual themes of class, failed love affairs, boorish behaviour and social mores are actually here just as evidently as in the books he is being rediscovered for. He is accurate to the point of cruelty in portraying human behaviour, which begins here with a fine appreciation of how the forthright humour of the cockney is unquestioningly admired by all as brilliant wit. At the other end of the cultural scale, it is accepted by all that the three great writers are Kipling, Newbolt and Buchan,
their supremacy remains unchallenged,
so that there is no critical discourse, and Marxism, which is 'promulgated in a definite system of philosophy known as Scitcelaid', would be greeted with horror,
if they were not hilariously laughed at, in this sane and happy land.

So, beneath the piercing account of a society instantly recognizable as 1930's London, and by no means too dated even now, but described in very opposite terms, is a dark view of the way we live, superficially very funny but with a bleak sub-text.
It took me a long time to get around to reading Impromptu but I'm glad I did. It reads as easily as a comic but reveals itself as more sinister as it progresses, which makes it fit entirely with the rest of Patrick Hamilton who is, as ever, highly recommended.
But I notice among the list of other titles 'by Patrick Hamilton', five other plays beyond the well-known Gaslight, which seems to have quite recently passed into the language in 'gaslighting', and Rope. While that means there are five more plays to read, if not find productions of, they do look very difficult to acquire. We'll see. 


 
     

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Natalie Clein - Clarke and Bridge

Natalie Clein, Christian Ihle Hadland, Clarke Viola Sonata, Bridge Cello Sonata (Hyperion)

It's me billing this as a Natalie Clein album, not Hyperion. It is not long before one realizes that these sonatas could have had and piano added to their titles without overstating its contribution, which is more than accompaniment.
Rebecca Clarke's Viola Sonata is here in its cello version, a mix of any number of influences both English and something like Debussy, lyrical at first but lively in a second movement vivace, in which the piano does more of the rapid work, until the third movement's adagio opening seems to capture some post-war reflectiveness. It doesn't work as background music but rewards proper listening. Fourteen years younger than Vaughan Williams, I'm grateful that the booklet points that out so that one can make the necessary connection. The third movement becomes allegro if not agitato before the piano shares the main line in what could anticipate Shostakovich's chamber music.
We then have three short pieces by Frank Bridge, the song-like Serenade, and serenade-like Spring Song, before a fitful Scherzo.
The main point, though, might be the Cello Sonata, dated here 1913-17, with its damaged rapture. If this is also a duet, one is aware of the cello carrying the theme as the senior partner. In two not quite equal movements, the first has a melancholy less damaged than the second, that can again be read into the dates of its composition. That much is apparent from the opening bars of the second movement with its long sequence of four different marked tempi.
The set finishes with six short Studies in English Folk Song by Vaughan Williams, evocative and as nostalgic then as we can feel a double nostalgia for now. The fields, the scenery, the England and, somewhere in there, the drover, are suggested but not expanded on, presumably in the knowledge that rather than outstay one's welcome, it's better to leave them wanting more and the album finishes quietly.      

Monday, 7 January 2019

Larkin - Letters Hoime

Philip Larkin, Letters Home, ed. James Booth (Faber)

On the publication of Letters to Monica, Anthony Thwaite pre-empted any concerns about the reading of private letters by saying that Larkin was aware he was 'writing for posterity' and the letters would be read 'over his shoulder' by an audience beyond Monica Jones. The precedent of publishing letters was set long before Larkin's generation. Whether James Booth can stretch the same reasoning to cover Larkin's letters to his mother, with a few to his sister and an appendix of some replies, is a further question.

Had the three volumes of letters now available been published in reverse order, his reputation would have gone from the quaintly domestic, through thoughtful erudition to the cartoon reactionary with a complete checklist of poltical incorrectness and it would by now be at its low point. As it is, the letters have become gentler as the books have been published and so some, if not all, of the damage done by the Selected Letters has been repaired.

From Oxford and through his junior library positions to the eventual Chief Librarianship at Hull, Larkin writes home very conscientiously, providing an account of his life in tiny detail sometimes on an almost daily basis. They are written from an England of Rain Stopped Play, noisy neighbours, drab Sundays and bad railways not quite unrecognizable by now but as gone as it was predicted to be in the poem Going, Going. They are illustrated with relevant drawings of creature characters representing himself and his mother, Eva, and addressed to 'my dearest old creature', and long before one reaches the end one is likely to have surrendered to their fey whimsicality and recovered from finding them mawkish.
If there are occasional apologies for unspecified outbursts of bad temper on visits 'home', Philip and Eva are mutually dependent with their minor anxieties seeming enormous to them and she can't have been easy, worrying more about stormy weather than is reasonable. She is, however, a discriminating reader and, give or take misplaced apostrophes, clear and literate. The same could be said of Sydney, his father, whose 'discrimination' might have gone further than it ought, but he dies in 1948 leaving Eva on her own for a further twenty-six years.

Apart from being the mostly quaint and often endearing read that it is, one reason to help justify Prof. Booth's great dedication in producing this book is how it augments his biography, PL, Life, Art and Love, in further revealing a sympathetic side to Larkin. Usually derided as 'the hermit of Hull' and 'miserabilist', he got about these islands and enjoyed himself enough in his appreciation of some of the finer things. Martin Amis went to unnecessary lengths in producing a Selected Poems, in 2011, the only point of which seemed to be its introduction in which the brooding bad boy of contemporary English fiction derided his father's mate for living in Hull, as if London, anything more cosmopolitan or the world were braver and preferable options. But, even now, it's still not possible to go to China and come back the same day and so lots of us still aren't going to bother.

Although clearly aware of his pre-eminent status in English poetry, his daily concerns are more with buying tweed; the garden, eventually; seeing his mother; good, bad or indifferent hotel food, obviously gin and the value of having time to himself. This compares with the fixations of the Ted Hughes letters which, from memory, were trying to arrange collector's editions of his poems to be published on auspicious days as indicated by horoscopes and lamenting the carnage that he saw happening around him without noticing that it was him that had caused it.
But Larkin has a defence mechanism in place that doesn't allow him to like anyone until he has reason to. Stammering, bookish and reluctant to dance, it is less easy to impress with quiet erudition up against opposition like Amis, pere et fils, and the likes of Hughes, who he understates as,
as famous as I am, only younger: a great thug of a man, never does any work  

and so it is these disparaging assessments that make for such entertainment, given that he met Auden, Iris Murdoch, obviously Betjeman and Cecil Day-Lewis a number of times and, it seems, Agatha Christie plus, perhaps top of his own charts, the Queen.
He 'loathes' Norman Iles at Oxford in 1940, which  came as an early shock to me because I met Mr. Iles some 39 years later and one couldn't wish to meet a nicer bloke, but it is the shy person's defence against that which they can't deal with and he's fine with Norman henceforth.
The DeputyLibrarian at Hull, the unfortunate Arthur Wood, is a 'goggling little ass' in 1960 and never improves in Larkin's bilious estimation of him; I expect they are a rum lot is his expectation of some landladies who take in students that he has to speak to, and in 1975, at the Ilkley Literature Festival, having shown up for the presentations,
M & I legged it before the poetry-reading began,

which might well have been wise. In later life, with Monica, he is admirably worried about being met on the stairs of a hotel, sneaking a bottle of booze up to their room rather than have to pay bar prices and be sociable.

All of which is traditional, English sitcom or postcard humour except this is in the life of the finest poet of his generation until, it begins in the early 1960's and even insinuates itself into these letters, James Booth is not such an apologist that he can leave out evidence of the worst bits.
Up to a point, one can accept that the 1960's and 70's were the age of On the Buses, Love Thy Neighbour and casual racism that was then a staple of mainstream humour ahead of any Corbynite fundamentalism or the fact that it is by now simply illegal. Larkin wasn't the only one who failed to grasp the benefits of immigration and thus regarded West Indians as some kind of undefined threat, despite his extensive collection of 'negro' jazz records. One tries to forgive as much as one can until,
in 1970,
I regret the banning of cricket as a giving-in to forces of disruption more baleful than apartheid could ever be,

where, in so few words, he undoes all the much good work put together in the rest of the book.
We know he goes to Lords for test matches, eventually achieves membership of the MCC, but he has missed the whole point of  Basil D'Oliveira, and that undermines all the minute detail of a photograph of some darned socks (Good Grief); the complaints about the weather; the genius poker hand he played, keeping Monica, Maeve and Betty onside and somehow his mother understanding; the brilliant administration of the library and, meanwhile, knocking out not just these letters and all the others but the diaries we must now be becoming more grateful to Betty Mackareth for destroying, and the poems, too.
No more is necessary, no more is needed if all we would like is some background to the poems without finding ourselves implicated as weird voyeurs into the life of someone who regarded himself as private.
It is a hugely enjoyable read, meticulously edited to distraction by Prof. Booth, but not the first book on any list of required Larkin reading. Once you've read the poems, you want the Required Writing.

Just because someone writes like an angel, that doesn't mean they're an angel. Like George Orwell said, and Larkin concurs, good writers aren't ipso facto good people. I was saving that line up for Shakespeare but I'll give it a little rehearsal here now.    
      
  

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Letter from Portsmouth

I've seen more than one newspaper columnist saying that if you thought 2018 was nuts, you wait until you see 2019 but, hold on, you never know. As one whose profit from the bookmakers would have been considerably more in 2016 were it not for the referendum and American election results, I know as well as anybody that politics is ever likely to confound us all.
The odds on a 2019 second referendum and a Remain vote are now nearly down to the 2/1 I was quoting a few weeks ago, so I'm not saying put money on it but I am saying what other possible solutions are there.
--
I daren't even look at the review below, done later on the other night. Maybe it's okay, I don't know, but apologies to Ms. Poirier, and all concerned, if it's incoherent.
--
It has been a fine midwinter holiday and it isn't over yet. Many thanks to the rail service for at least doing what it said it would when I needed it to, for once.
It is a bookish time, as befits a bookish website, and serious thought and logistical planning might need to go into more bookcases as a new year plan. They surely must go into the second bedroom eventually but it might mean losing the old 'music centre' which can no longer play cassettes and is never asked to play LP's anymore. If I never achieved the original plan of being a librarian, at least I ended up living in a library.
On the subject of which, Larkin's Letters Home is very much the gentle, olde worlde comfort blanket of a read one might expect of it although I won't pre-empt a fuller word on it here. It might just squeeze onto the Larkin shelf in a very tight fit but otherwise it is going to create a crisis of curatorship with not only the individual volumes of poems, two Collecteds, three biographies, three sets of letters, memoirs by others, the two novels, the juvenilia, the photographs, the Oxford anthology, the jazz book, the journalism and interviews and the critiques. Everything but the Complete Poems, which is more complete than it needs to be. And I've said about 'completism' before, it's a hopeless and undesirable project.

So, with Natalie Clein's new disc being something like the programme she played at Wigmore Hall recently, I thought I'd better begin next year with that. One thinks one can listen to Mozart opera forever but maybe even Princess Margaret didn't drink champagne all the time and the world is many and various. While I have several Natalie discs, there is no attempt being made to have them all, the same as when I realized how many Mozart operas there really are, I thought better of pursuing all of them, at least for the time being.
There are too many people to keep abreast of to think one can have all of all of them. I'm slipping behind on Sebastian Faulks, the big push on Julian Barnes has stalled but, reverting to the list obesession, the litany of those one has 'nearly all' of is longer than one thought.
'Complete Work' sets of Buxtehude and Chopin are taken for being what they say they are.
George Eliot, Patrick Hamilton (given the eventual surrender and ordering of Impromptu in Moribundia) and Murakami are an unlikely trio of fiction writers. Oh, yes, and Richard Yates, Salinger and Raymond Carver.
I can't be far off nearly all of Maggi Hambling's published books.
I'm not even convinced I have everything of my own.

T. Rex, The Magnetic Fields, R.E.M.
But, then, of course, the poets, where a Collected or Complete only begs the question of what else they wrote. I won't index this post with all the necessary tages-
Shakespeare, Donne, Marvell, Chaucer, Eliot, Edward Thomas, Thom Gunn, Larkin, Hughes, Plath, Elizabeth Bishop, Sean O'Brien, Roddy Lumsden, Julia Copus, Dylan Thomas, Thomas Hardy, Keats, Ivor Gurney, Rochester, Ovid, Catullus, Tibullus, several more contemporary people who have by no means finished yet and apologies to those I've forgotten. And, to what end, because owning them all doesn't mean I've read them all. In order to know, or at least think, I have them and thus can list them here, which would appear to be the point.
--
But the holiday sporting programme brought its own rewards.
Fulham's now water-tight defence have only conceded once in three outings, which has presaged a march up to 18th place. If they could have sorted out who takes the penalties, I'd have landed the 8/1 about 2-0 v. Huddersfield. Get a grip, lads.
Yesterday's racing was like taking candy from a baby with Champagne Platinum, Lady Buttons and Champ zooming in. My safety-first policy might have saved me from the poor house in the long run but it also denies me access to the rich house when I only lay out that which keeps the year's profit at a modest but satisfactory level and should have piled in. And then the blitzkrieg attack on Taunton today gives half of it back but never mind.
But the highlight was the high risk strategy of putting my treasured 1900+ rating at Chess24 on the line by entering a tournament last night, for which I was no.1 seed on ratings. I was an uneasy favourite, though, and an obvious 'lay' in any betting that might have gone on, not having played for a few days, etc.
Grinding out 3 wins out of 3, that rating was heaved up to 1931 before, tiring and confused after a 150 move game, I crashed and burned in the last two games and slumped to 5th out of 18.
(5th, BorderIncident, with leaders to 2 out, weakened under pressure, found no extra, 7/2 2nd fav, from 5/2)
On a recovery mission this afternoon, though, fiddling a 4-0 result against some German victim, I restored myself to a lovely 1910, that flatters me more than Piers Gaveston ever did Edward II. I don't know if it is regarded as the height of good sportsmanship to play quickly in 10 minute games but rules are rules and wouldn't be rules if they weren't.
One bangs out the familiar openings (Queen's Gambit with white; Sicilian Defence with black), like the 'H Bomb', Nakamura, and gains a time advantage. If one plays accurately enough until the opposition is down to a minute, one can play out a lost position and get the verdict. It's not nice and it's not pretty but it can work.
I had one of those four games won but was lost in probably two but you've only got 10 minutes, Herr Deutschlander, and your time was up.

I hope my kalanchoe plant (pictured) survives. Picked up from Tesco Express for 30p, on its way out, I extended my People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals compassion to Homeless Houseplants. It was the least I could do.
It is not as instantly gorgeous as the cyclamen I so sadly failed with some time ago but maybe it makes up for that with personality. I've put it more into the natural light, wondering if photosynthesis might help, and it is still trying its best. Maybe if it had its own website or You Tube following, it would feel encouraged.

So, there we are. 2019 may or may not see me finishing with full-time, guaranteed, waged employment and then it's either survive on one's wits, savings and the racing results or the devil and the deep blue sea. But I don't see why Caitlin Moran, Giles and Vicky Coren and all those people should be the only ones knocking out reams of material about what it's like being them if I can't be paid half as much for explaining what it's like being me. There's plenty more where this came from.


Thursday, 27 December 2018

Agnes Poirier - Left Bank

Agnes Poirier, Left Bank - Art, Passion and the Re-birth of Paris 1940-1950 (Bloomsbury)

History is documented in various ways. Traditionally by the winners, then by all kinds of revisionists with universities just as full of historian academics in need of a thesis as they are of exponents of literary biography but, the shifting picture being what it is, I prefer the first Elizabethan age, Doctor Johnson and WW1 to be told by Blackadder and the Existentialists to be as represented in the Tony Hancock film, The Rebel. If we can't be flippant, what else is there left to be.

Well, we can be Albert Camus, for a start. Never anything less than the epitome of 'cool' and only that on account of his novels, that he didn't consider anything like his most important work, these are the sort of people widely regarded as 'cool' by their own generation until at least the time I took the course on Existentialism (Russell Keates, who briefly thought I hadn't provided an essay on Kierkegaard, and the black-clad Jane Howarth) at Lancaster circa 1980.

Quite how really cool they were, rather than in any superficial way 'cool' has been judged since,
is how Agnes Poirier, more than once, points out that Jean-Paul Sartre lived up to his own ideal of having 'no possessions' several years ahead of John Lennon trying to imagine what that would be like.

I have nothing but enormous affection and admiration for all of the Beatles, having been just about old enough to have understood the energy and magic of She Loves You, yeah, yeah, yeah and, similarly as a result of the age demographic I am defined by, there is something about Sartre, and even more about Camus, that means I don't want to hear a word against them.

But at university, Philosophy being not my major subject, we just read texts. The Existentialism course might have begun with a passing reference to Socrates as the beginning of Western sceptiscism but from there the heavy artillerry of Kant and Hegel were brought in, as necessary precursors to what one had really signed up for, Being and Nothingness, the hundreds of intense pages of which, for BA (Hons) purposes, we were required to know about only a few of the early chapters.
God only knows what a degree is worth now but it wasn't worth much then, either.

Agnes Poirier, photographed here with Juliette Greco, who was there, most significantly as a Bardot before the fact but with Miles Davis, explains how it all came out of the resistance. The poverty, the jazz, the cafe society, the books, reading, the commitment - of course it did, it was anti-Nazi. But did our lecturers at university tell us that in 1980. I'm not sure they did. They thought it came out of other, previous philosophers.
I don't think it did.
I'd ask for a refund from my university if only I'd had to pay for it in the first place.

Having only a few weeks ago read Hermione Lee's Virginia Woolf, in which the Bloomsbury Group, in between finding time to produce some very fine work, can't leave each other alone, these Existentialists are, if anything, worse but at least have the reason that they have survived unspeakable horror and so what else is there to do.

What happens is that, with very little hint of how Camus and Sartre parted company but, gladly, plenty made of how they offered a 'third way' between Gaullism and communism, the seminal decade of 1940's Paris begins with heroic underground resistance and emerges with Brigitte Bardot, Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan and the innate glamour that those of us who voted Remain, and will gladly do again, can't quite do for ourselves but would like to be closer to than we otherwise would be.

I Like Alf

Paul Jones, I Like Alf (Mousehold Press)



Alf Engers was to cycling what Alex Higgins was to snooker, for want of a better comparison. Charismatic, controversial and maverick, he did things his own way, not always to the liking of the sport's governing bodies but was impossible to ignore and a champion in spite of whatever circumstances were put in his way.
It was possible to ignore him for the majority of the public who in the 1960's and 70's had no idea about what was going on in the esoteric sport of cycling, on the road, on the track and in time-trialling. It was not always headline news and a boom sport, it was more like an undercover operation known about by a select few who knew their stuff.
Paul Jones has produced a gripping account of Alf's turbulent career based on recent interviews with the man himself and, as a rider who achieved sub-50 minute times for 25 miles and a talented writer capable of telling the story in the spirit it benefits from being told in, he is well ahead of many such sports books not always as well-placed to do so.
Alf Engers was a baker who worked nights which didn't lend itself to traditional timetables for training and preparation for early morning racing. He was also very much his own man, regularly moving from club to club, and thus dependent on the devoted patronage of those who believed in him but found himself perennially caught between cycling's 'North London Mafia' and those whose scriptures were the RTTC rulebook as interpreted by them,
the RRTC made the Taliban Militia look like Club 18-30 holiday reps.

But, as the title does much to suggest, Jones is ultra-sympathetic to the Engers point of view. Those of us interested in sport for sport's sake, rather than administration for administration's sake, always were, too, and one can't come out of reading this book without being even more so but, partisan as it so clearly is, one would just like to hear something from the self-styled apparatchiks of the ruling body to see if, for example, the ban from amatuer competition imposed on Engers after his return from the grey-ish area of 'independent' status was at all justified. It was, after all, a time in which the Olympic Games was for amateurs, as was Rugby Union, while the Soviet Union could train athletes full-time by giving them positions in the army.
Such blurred lines have always benefitted students of the law more than those taking part.

Alf Engers came from school athletics, via the post-war cycle speedway scene, which was the equivalent of skiffle in pop music, and track racing, a world populated by such characters as,
You always knew where you stood with Len Thorpe because he would always let you down.

Famously, a three-man Team Time Trial unit, including Engers and the 'taciturn' John Woodburn, beat the Olympic squad in the run up to the Games but, selection committees knowing who they were selecting anyway, they selected who they were going to select anyway. Alf is forever up against the 'powers that be', sometimes happy to take a sabbatical, whether imposed or not, and return to his angling or, indeed, on that first occasion, to form a skiffle band.
I don't think his mythology was of his own making - his dedication and dedication to detail foresaw SKY's marginal gains theory several decades ahead - but he was capable of living up to it as an idiosyncratic time-triallist who turned up in a fur coat and dark glasses. Talent has its own mystique for the rest of us who don't possess it but, for me, it is in the attitude whereby,
they laughed at things in a sport in which laughing at things was no laughing matter.

It is also about putting the record where nobody else could get to it, for as long as any record can be. The championship 25's, the performances that put more than a minute into the much-vaunted rivals on the day and, less interestingly, the technonology are the point until, aged 38, it is the first sub-50 minute '25', 49.24, the likes of which can be witnessed regularly by now but which, coming so soon after Concorde and the Moon landings, seemed of a piece with them then to those who had any grasp of the matter. It would bear comparison with Roger Bannister if the 4-minute mile hadn't been set up as a team effort with Brasher and Chataway.

Paul Jones has the clubman's lingo, which means that non-cyclists might need to know that a 100 inch gear is very hard to push round and that 'the Comic' means Cycling/Cycling Weekly but it is unlikely that this excellent book will break out of its niche market to become a mainstream best-seller. Would that it were. It might have benefitted from more thoroughgoing sub-editing and, certainly, having been so matter-of-fact thoughout, some readers might find the last four pages of philosophical reflection less than the ideal ending. But the best Christmas present I had, really, was being allowed to read my nephew's present to my dad before he did, while I was there, so I could come home and review it in such short order.
Books on sport are, by necessity, usually either ghost-written by hacks for the inarticulate sportsman in question or by fans more interested in dull statistics and achievements who aren't good enough writers. Paul Jones, possibly showing off a bit, can actually get T.S. Eliot into his text. He is a proper writer and a proper cyclist. Those advantages multiply themselves by each other. 

      
 

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Josquin Desprez - Miserere mei Deus

Josquin Desprez,  Miserere mei Deus, Cappella Amsterdam (Harmonia Mundi)


It's always a good thing to forget what one has ordered and then come home to find it's been delivered and you don't know what it is.
Having spent some of the recent turf profit on Mozart operas, the cooling balm of renaissance polyphony makes for a change from the witty orchestration and sheer delightfulness.
This was an essential purchase for having a new version of the Deploration sur la mort d'Ockeghem, as it is billed here, and to hear the other pieces seen fit to programme with it.
With the Clerk's Group's 1993 recording, as an encore to a disc of Ockeghem himself, indelible by now as the definitive version for me, any comment has to be by way of comparision with that. First impressions are that Cappella Amsterdam are softer, perhaps a fraction quicker, quite probably better recorded but not necessarily as poignant, and if this 3.30 setting of the lament by (no less than) Guillaume Cretin is anything, it is the apotheosis of the poignant. As such, I'm not convinced it is sufficiently dirge-like but my familiarity with the earlier version is always going to be in the way of any subsequent recording and by all means, this would be a sensational find if it had been found first, which for some it inevitably will be.
In a quite brilliant bit of cover design, they use a detail from this Van Eyck painting but only the view of the city from the top right corner and none of the adoration going on in the foreground.

Any difference between Cappella Amsterdam and the Tallis Scholars would begin confidently by noticing that there are more of them, 14 listed but more on the photo, but apparently similar resources used for this record. Perhaps they sound more monastic which might be in part due to the recording conditions in de Waalse Kerk, Amsterdam.
It is rarely a complaint, and only a question, when I wonder if music is taken more quickly than is sometimes good for it. This disc passes soon, and gorgeously, enough for its 66 minutes, especially when trying to think of worthwhile things to say about it but would seem, and be, longer if it lingered more, which there would have been room for. For once, when a record had been reprimanded for going too fast (Don Giovanni by Arnold Ostman and The Drottingholm  Court Theatre Orchestra), it didn't worry me, certainly not in the showpiece arias one really wants it for, but eternity's a long, long time and not to be rushed through in these plaintive lamentations.

The voices blend, the enunciation is careful and we won't ever know if Josquin would have heard his own music done like this or otherwise. 
If we think that the encore here, Musae Jovis by Nicolas Gombert, 45 years Josquin's junior, takes us back to where we came in, that's because it is the companion piece to the Deploration, with the next generation paying their own tribute in similar style,
Cruel and wicked Death,
you who deprive the temples of sweet sounds, 
and the princely courts also  

and if I had been thinking I didn't actually need this record because I have plenty of others like it, no, this is what I bought it to find out about.
Gombert did right by Josquin and the tradition was handed on.