The Spirits of England and France - 3

Record and Artist Details

Composer or Director: (Richard de Bellengues) Cardot, Anonymous, John Dunstable, Gilles de Bins dit Binchois, Guillaume de Machaut, Johannes Legrant, Gilet Velut, Johannes de Lymburgia, Leonel Power, Pierre Fontaine, Byttering

Label: Hyperion

Media Format: CD or Download

Mastering:

DDD

Catalogue Number: CDA66783

Tracks:

Composition Artist Credit
Pour une fois et pour toute Christopher Page
Gothic Voices
(Richard de Bellengues) Cardot Composer
Abide, I hope it is the best Anonymous Composer
Christopher Page
Gothic Voices
Beata Dei genitrix John Dunstable Composer
Christopher Page
Gothic Voices
Adieu mon amoureuse joye Christopher Page
Gilles de Bins dit Binchois Composer
Gothic Voices
Il m'est avis qu'il n'est Christopher Page
Guillaume de Machaut Composer
Gothic Voices
Se liesse Gothic Voices
Christopher Page
Johannes Legrant Composer
Ay douloureux disant helas Christopher Page
Gothic Voices
Gilles de Bins dit Binchois Composer
Se la belle n'a le voloir Gothic Voices
Christopher Page
Gilles de Bins dit Binchois Composer
(Un) Petit oyselet chantant Christopher Page
Gothic Voices
Gilet Velut Composer
Magnificat secundi toni Gilles de Bins dit Binchois Composer
Gothic Voices
Christopher Page
Descendi in ortum meum Johannes de Lymburgia Composer
Christopher Page
Gothic Voices
Qui veut mesdire si mesdie Gothic Voices
Gilles de Bins dit Binchois Composer
Christopher Page
Exultavit cor in Domino Christopher Page
Anonymous Composer
Gothic Voices
Gloria Leonel Power Composer
Christopher Page
Gothic Voices
Lassiés ester vostres chans de liesse Christopher Page
Gilet Velut Composer
Gothic Voices
J'ayme bien celui Pierre Fontaine Composer
Gothic Voices
Christopher Page
Amoureux suy et me vient toute joye Gilles de Bins dit Binchois Composer
Gothic Voices
Christopher Page
En Katerina solennia/Virginalis contio/Sponsus ama Gothic Voices
Christopher Page
Byttering Composer
Gothic Voices continue their long-term exploration of early English and French polyphony with an offering devoted to the work of Binchois and his musical forebears of both ‘nationalities’. Consistent with the ensemble’s usual approach to this repertoire, voices and instruments are not mixed; instead, Christopher Page is joined by the lutenists Christopher Wilson and Shirley Rumsey in energetic renderings of several of the songs: light, and delightful, relief.
The songs of Binchois are relatively late territory for Gothic Voices. It has been ten years or so – in “The Castle of Fair Welcome” (Hyperion, 11/86), to be exact – since they covered this repertoire in any depth (who can forget the chilly pathos of Dueil angoisseus?), and comparison with the new disc is instructive. Over the years there have been more, and deeper, men’s voices; the hard-edged, polished chrome patina has perhaps mellowed and burnished with time. Perhaps, too, the almost obsessive concern with clarity and intonation has been allowed to ease a little, in favour of a heightened sensitivity to the affective projection of both text and music.
Perhaps, but only just. The hard edge creeps back in when the programme strays from Binchois back on to earlier repertory, such as Power’s marvellous (and much-recorded) five-voice Gloria – here portrayed as an exercise in risk-taking for composer and singers alike. Its brashness, though glorious to listen to, leads to an inevitable query, for there are not one but two programmes here. Binchois’s songs, characterized by their restraint and understatement, seem uneasy in the company of so many of his exuberant contemporaries and immediate predecessors (and the not-so-immediate – what is Machaut doing here?). The singers do their utmost to reflect the difference in tone, but that only makes the discrepancy more telling. This is a pity, for the Binchois pieces are finely pitched, and deserved to have more space to themselves – more space also for the singers to acclimatize themselves to Binchois’s languorous melancholy. Page knows a show-stopper when he hears one, and the haunted Ay, douloureux, clocking in at nearly nine minutes, stands out from other items in the collection like a hothouse plant. A few more of this composer’s songs would have been most welcome. That is not meant to belittle the rest, but to suggest that, as a programme, this particular collection is perhaps not as well-rounded as so many of its predecessors: the sum of its parts. And yet there is so much that is deeply moving and magical that anything less than a warm recommendation would be positively Scrooge-like.'

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