Graindelavoix - Björn Schmelzer
Björn Schmelzer is a Belgian choral conductor, musicologist, and anthropologist, though he frequently crosses disciplines and incorporates many academic and creative influences in his performances of medieval music. He founded the vocal ensemble Graindelavoix in 1999, a group that explores the varieties of practices in medieval vocal repertoire. By researching the history and geography of Mediterranean traditions, Schmelzer draws on traditions found in Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Morocco, specifically employing the ornamentation and styles that are documented or which still survive. He has performed as a guest conductor and given lectures, additionally writing for various publications. He was named Young Musician of the Year by the Belgian Music Press. In the process of leading Graindelavoix, Schmelzer has documented the group's activities in films, and participated in audio-visual installations. He has recorded several albums for Glossa.
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Classical - Released April 17, 2020 | Glossa
There is something deeply troubling and inscrutable in Carlo Gesualdo’s music, something that any listener, even the most inexpert one, will unfailingly experience. This most particularly holds for Tenebrae Responsoria (1611), his definitive statement, his monument, his testament. It is as if this work, firmly embedded in the framework of liturgy for the Holy Week and reaching back to the practices of the Gregorian chant, would constantly extend over its boundaries and transgress its time and setting, immediately addressing modernity, disturbing all the rules in a severe tension, reaching into something that borders on chaos and madness, within the very order and religious devotion it fully espouses. Graindelavoix, that groundbreaking ensemble based in Antwerp and directed by Björn Schmelzer, are the ideal performers for this disquieting repertoire which originally was sung at Gesualdo’s castle and with probably only one listener in the audience: Gesualdo himself... In a tour de force lasting over three hours, recorded over ten days in summer 2019, the singers fully display all the features which, after 16 albums (all on Glossa) and hundreds of concerts, have made their sound a truly trademark one. In words of Schmelzer, “this is our most important recording to date”. A fascinating essay especially commissioned to Lithuanian philosopher and cultural theorist Mladen Dolar puts the music of Gesualdo into perspective, avoiding the clichés that are so often found in texts about the composer. © Alpha Classics
Classical - Released September 14, 2018 | Glossa
With « The Liberation of the Gothic », Björn Schmelzer and Graindelavoix deliver an imaginative reading of music by two English composers active at the end of the fifteenth century, the towering figure of John Browne and the slightly later and much less wellknown Thomas Ashwell (or Ashewell). Björn Schmelzer draws a vivid connection between the florid polyphony of these two composers and the freedom of structure and ornament found in late Gothic architecture, notably that of the fourteenthcentury Lady Chapel built as part of the “Ship of the Fens”, Ely Cathedral. Performing Ashwell’s intricately-woven Missa Ave Maria – a landmark in polyphony – Schmelzer and his Antwerp-based ensemble echo, in the individual freedom accorded to these virtuoso singers, the rich ornamentation of foliage, seemingly in constant motion, decorating the walls of Ely’s Lady Chapel. The singers add their own “coloratura”, an approach which continues to be central to Björn Schmelzer’s interpretation of medieval and Renaissance works, as have been appearing on Glossa for a decade and a half now. In his booklet essay Schmelzer refers to the British writer and artist John Ruskin describing the “liberation of the Gothic” as also concerning “the workers, who were not submitted to repetitive, mechanical work but invested in continuous and infinite variation.” Acting as surrounding pillars to Ashwell’s Mass on this recording are two of the extended motets, much favoured by early Tudor English polyphonists – and encountered in the famous Eton Choirbook manuscript: John Browne’s Stabat mater and his first setting of the Salve regina. © Glossa