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Masters Of The Rolls (English Music 14th Century) (Hyperion: CDH55364) (Gothic Voices/ Christopher Page)

Christopher Page Audio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 6.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Masters Of The Rolls (English Music 14th Century) (Hyperion: CDH55364) (Gothic Voices/ Christopher Page) + The Earliest Songbook In England  (Hyperion: CDH55297) + The Spirits of England & France, Vol. 1
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Product details

  • Conductor: Christopher Page
  • Composer: Anonymous
  • Audio CD (2 July 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Hyperion
  • ASIN: B0081XYBVW
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 95,955 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Ab ora summa nuncius [3'10]
2. Inter usitata/Inter tot et tales/TENOR [1'46]
3. Vexilla regni prodeunt [3'52]
4. Singularis laudis digna [5'14]
5. Dulcia dona redemptoris [2'04]
6. Summum regem honoremus [1'45]
7. Omnis terra/Habenti dabitur/TENOR [2'51]
8. Copiose caritatis [1'12]
9. Missus Gabriel de celis [1'59]
10. Pura, placens/Parfundement plure/TENOR [2'20]
11. Letetur celi curia [3'21]
12. Salve regina [2'44]
13. Jesu fili virginis [0'47]
14. Jesu fili/Jesu lumen/JESU FILI VIRGINIS [2'05]
15. Sospitati dat egrotos [1'35]
16. Exultemus et letemur [2'00]
17. Stella maris illustrans omnia [2'14]
18. Venit dilectus meus [4'57]
19. Pange lingua [4'09]
20. O sponsa Dei electa [1'34]
See all 22 tracks on this disc

Product Description


Ones ear is instantly captivated this disc comes with unhesitating recommendation, and not only for those to whom medieval music is already a familiar delight. The combination of scholarship and musicianship brought to bear by Page and his singers is wholly admirable; in particular, the ease and grace with which Gothic Voices negotiate the sometimes angular textures of their repertoire is a source of fascination and wonder --(Gramophone Early Music)

There is remarkable beauty in these varied pieces, beauty that is brought out in the superb singing of this ensemble. This is an example of a totally perfect release --(American Record Guide)

Product Description

Gothic Voices - Christopher Page, direction

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 14th century English music 14 Sep 2012
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This recording partly fills a gap between some of the earliest English music and later material such as that contained within the Old Hall Manuscript dating from the early 15th century. In effect this disc spans the 14th century, although a couple of earlier 13th century pieces - one perhaps from as early as 1200 - are here too. Unfortunately the accompanying booklet is silent as to the sources for these compositions, but they are all anonymous.

There are several styles showcased here - in the polyphonic pieces, the simpler 'cum eadem littera' forms, and more complex 'cum diversis litteris' motet forms with multiple texts. There are five monophonic pieces which have texts relating to events of the reign of Edward II - one of these, 'Vexilla regni prodeunt', praises the action of Thomas of Lancaster in beheading Edward's favourite Piers Gaveston - it does not hold back in making clear just how detested Gaveston was by the establishment. The other four come from an Office for Thomas, around whom a cult developed and an attempt at canonisation after Edward had him beheaded. The latest work here is a canonic piece, leading naturally into the presence of such forms in the aforementioned Old Hall manuscript.

Although perhaps not the most exciting or entertaining disc of late medieval music, this is nevertheless a fascinating disc charting a period of English musical development and highlighting the contrasts with parallel development on the continent. Director Christopher Page has always had an excellent team of vocalists around him and this is no exception, and the sound quality is excellent.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Masters of the Rolls 18 Mar 2009
Format:Audio CD
I was looking for music which would have been contemporary in Julian of Norwich's time.This CD reproduces the sound of 14th C voices beautifully.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars English art music from the 1300s 10 July 2014
By Michael Schell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
As its subtitle attests, the focus of this album is English art music from the 14th century. This is interesting repertory, surviving in bits and pieces, and far less known today than the contemporaneous French Ars Nova that reached its apogee in the work of Guillaume de Machaut. Even as old English music goes, the 13th century gets more of the limelight, led by the famous Sumer Is Icumen in and twinsongs like "Edi beo thu, hevene Quene" and "Foweles in the frith". And then there's the 15th century ushering in the first of the English "name" composers, Power and Dunstable, further pushing the 14th century into the background. Masters of the Rolls is a helpful remedy to this obscurity.

The Rolls in question are the rotoli (singular rotolus) from which literate musicians of that time read while performing. Very few of these delicate, often roughly-handled scroll manuscripts have survived. More plentiful nowadays are the bound manuscripts that served as display pieces or collector's items more than as practical musical texts. Indeed, few medieval English music manuscripts of ANY kind survived the Anglican reformation, and many that did spent hundreds of years as recycled scraps in bindings, frontispieces and what not before their rediscovery by modern scholars. A preponderance of this surviving music was sung in church/monastery settings, and used sacred texts in English or Latin. All of the texts heard here are in Latin, though some are political rather than sacred).

Surveying a few of the 22 tracks should give an idea of what's on tap here. First up is "Ab ora summa nuncius", an example of what Christopher Page calls same-text pieces (where everyone sings the same words together, though not necessarily on the same pitch). It sounds like an Ars Antiqua conductus from France, except for the enhanced emphasis on full triads. Track 2 is a typical multi-text Latin motet ("Inter usitata/Inter tot et tales/Tenor"), one of the many "not-same-text-pieces" on the album that offer quite a contast from the more homophonic same-text works. These motets more closely resemble their French counterparts than the same-text pieces. Track 3, "Vexilla regni prodeunt" is a strophic monophonic secular song whose third phrase closely resembles the famous In Nomine tune that became popular in English variation sets written around 1600. Track 4, an interesting specimen at least under Gothic Voices' rhythmic interpretation, is quite close to the sound world of the Kyrie from Machaut's mass, with its largely homorhythmic texture offset with the occasional dramatic melisma. Track 5 adds a single female voice to the four male voices.

Skipping ahead to "Letetur celi curia", track 11, we get another example of a English conductus (though Page doesn't use this term). Page points out that the piece "runs for nearly three-and-a-half minutes without a single dissonance of a second, seventh or ninth, major or minor; such a procedure is almost unimaginable in the context of Ars Nova practice in France". Indeed the focus on triadic harmonies is probably the most characteristic Anglicism in this music. It wasn't until the 15th century that the major triad became established on the Continent as a reference sonority. Keep in mind that French sacred polyphony was geared for enormous Gothic cathedrals like Notre Dame and Rheims. It's not surprising that the French composers considered thirds to be less consonant than the fifths and octaves that worked so well in those highly reverberant spaces.

As usual Gothic Voices sets the bar for scholarly but musically impeccable a cappella interpretations of medieval vocal music. If you're fond of this repertory and aren't troubled at the prospect of listening for an hour without hearing any instrumentals (in contrast with, say a Micrologus album), then you certainly won't be disappointed by this 1999 recording.
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