Albums

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released November 2, 2018 | Ramée

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Here's something fascinating: music from the 14th and early 15th centuries, lost for hundreds of years, has now been rediscovered thanks to some space-age technology. Because, in fact, the original manuscripts were never lost. In reality, the paper had been scrubbed and recycled or covered over with palimpsests because of the prohibitive price of parchment at the time. And so a whole body of Florentine works from the era of Petrarch, Boccacio, Dante and Machiavelli was erased to make room for 16th century poems. A careful examination of the San Lorenzo Palimpsest revealed that multi-spectral photography (anyone who knows what that is, raise your hand…) of the pages can render the underlying layer perfectly legible, and so now 111 pages of music from the 14th century can see the light of day. After six hundred years of multi-spectral silence, these pieces are interpreted here by the La Morra ensemble, which specialises in late medieval and Renaissance music with voice and instruments like the lute, vielle, clavicymbalum and recorder. There is an intensity of emotion in hearing these pieces which until now we never knew existed, written by composers of whom we know almost nothing such as Giovanni Mazzuoli and his son Piero, Paolo da Firenze or Jacopo da Bologna. Here they take centre stage. © SM/Qobuz

Classical - Released June 22, 2018 | Glossa

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Imprisoned at the start of the 520s, Boethius (real name Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius, born around 477) couldn't have imagined that his final work would become one of the most-read books of the Middle Ages. Born into a noble Roman family in the days of the abdication of the last Western Emperor, Boethius undertook a fine career as a statesman, as a translator of Greek works into Latin, and as a poet. But the West was govern by an Ostrogothic King, Theoderic the Great, and Boethius's loyalty to the Senate of Rome made him suspect: accused of treason, he was imprisoned and then condemned to death in 524. In his Consolation of Philosophy, written in prison, he describes his battle with himself, to accept his fate, concentrating on the great questions of good and evil. And we know that in the Middle Ages these texts were sung, as we have found musical notation in around thirty manuscripts dating from the 9th to early 12th centuries. The neumes used in this notation describe the overall contour of the melodies, a kind of aide-mémoire for singers who would know the precise notes already. As this oral tradition has since been lost, it long seemed impossible to reconstitute these melodies, but recent research has made it possible to identify the models of song hidden behind this notation: medieval musicians associated certain metric schemes used in the Consolation with particular styles of song. The singers and instrumentalists of Sequentia, veteran performers of songs from this period, have put these discoveries to good use, bringing us a collection of two dozen 11th-century songs; several of Boethius's poems are set to this notation, and in particular the most dramatic part of the text, where Boethius laments his fall. Some fifteen centuries separate us from these singular sounds which seem at once to surge from the depths of the ages, and at the same time to be so close to us, thanks to the clarity of their writing. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released June 1, 2018 | Evidence

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or

Sacred Vocal Music - Released April 29, 2016 | Glossa

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released June 2, 2014 | Paraty Productions

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Secular Vocal Music - Released May 6, 2014 | Christophorus

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Secular Vocal Music - Released April 7, 2014 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Hi-Res Audio
Many listeners have gotten their introduction to medieval music through the American vocal quartet Anonymous 4, which has a knack for performances that are insightful, sensuous, and apt at putting the concerns of the music into a contemporary settings. They remain productive after several personnel changes and two decades of recordings, several of which have performed strongly on classical sales charts. Marie et Marion is something of a sequel to the group's 1994 release Love's Illusion, which contained music on the theme of courtly love from a manuscript collection known as the Montpellier Codex. It was collected, around 1300, in Paris, not Montpellier, and it was, as far as it is possible to know at this late date, state-of-the-art stuff at the time. Marie et Marion focuses on a specific aspect of this repertory: the connections between sacred and secular polyphony at a time very close to the dawn of the latter. The two titular figures are the Virgin Mary and a shepherdess named Marion, the same one who appears in the earliest known work with a named composer, Adam de la Halle's Jeu de Robin et Marion, or Play of Robin and Marion. In that piece she rejects the amorous advances of the shepherd Robin, and here too she is, like Mary, rather unattainable. The point is that medieval musicians did not think of the sacred and secular spheres as firmly separated the way modern ones do. They could even, as a couple of pieces in the final "Marie-Marion" section of the program, be put together in the same piece, with sacred and secular texts going on at the same time (the use of multiple texts is characteristic of this music), and the foundational "tenors" of all the polyphonic pieces come from the realm of chant. This is a profitable listen either for the delicious sounds of the singers' voices clashing in the linear harmonies of the music, or for an introduction to the polytextual motet and chanson around 1300, or both.
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Secular Vocal Music - Released July 1, 2013 | Musica Ficta

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Exceptional sound - Hi-Res Audio

Classical - Released March 25, 2013 | Troba Vox

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released November 6, 2012 | Naxos

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Classical - Released August 7, 2012 | CPO

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released March 17, 2011 | Ad Vitam records

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One of the purposes behind the album L'Orient des Troubadours is to demonstrate the extent of the influence of Arabic music, poetry, and cultural values on the 12th and 13 century troubadours. It includes songs of courtly love by well-known troubadours like Guillaume IX, Peire Vidal, and Jaufré Rudal, as well as anonymous songs and instrumental pieces. From the music's opening notes, the listener is taken to a remote and unfamiliar world. The tuning system most used in the Medieval era was based on Pythagorean ratios and sounds immediately exotic (or simply out of tune) to ears accustomed to the equal temperament characteristic of the piano that is, with a few exceptions, the basis for all Western classical music since the Classical era. The songs were written for solo voice with an accompaniment improvised on a string instrument, originally frequently played by the singer. Using a viola d'amore, Jasser Haj Youssef provides an inventive and very active accompaniment that has as much character and individuality as the vocal line and is worlds apart from the standard strumming typical of many modern guitar accompaniments. Baritone Jean-Paul Rigaud has an attractive, immediately appealing voice that is obviously classically trained but that he deploys with the unmannered directness of a folk singer. He brings warmth and passion to these ardent love songs. The songs are far more melodically complex than most of the liturgical chant that was being written at about the same time and they have an emotional expressiveness that's unmistakable even for listeners for whom the idiom is entirely foreign. The sound quality is very clean and spacious as well as intimate. The album should have strong appeal for anyone interested in very early music.

Sacred Vocal Music - Released March 1, 2011 | Christophorus

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Classical - Released August 30, 2010 | Christophorus

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Art Songs, Mélodies & Lieder - Released August 24, 2010 | Troba Vox

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Art Songs, Mélodies & Lieder - Released May 10, 2010 | Christophorus

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Art Songs, Mélodies & Lieder - Released March 30, 2010 | Troba Vox

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Art Songs, Mélodies & Lieder - Released March 16, 2010 | Troba Vox

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Concertos - Released January 26, 2010 | Naxos

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Naxos' double-disc release of Ultimate Chant: Music of Ethereal Beauty brings together recordings by four groups trained in singing Gregorian chant and offers examples of the various types of chants historically used in the Roman Catholic Church. The performances are idiomatic and attuned to the special nuances of phrasing required in singing chants, particularly in the careful use of dynamics and tempos to keep the monody expressive and fluid. On the whole this collection is even in tone and consistent in mood, though the sounds of each group are distinctive, whether they are constituted of men, as is the Nova Schola Gregoriana, or of women, as are Aurora Surgit, In Dulci Jubilo, and Schola Hungarica. The program offers some well-known melodies, such as the Requiem aeternam and Crux fidelis, though the majority of the recordings are of less famous chants from the ordinary of the mass and the propers that are generally not the most frequently performed. Still, as a broad survey of chants that can also serve double-duty as an album for relaxation or reflection, Ultimate Chant fulfills its implied purpose, despite its rather pretentious title.

Sacred Vocal Music - Released December 14, 2009 | Christophorus

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