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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beginning a Mediaeval Journey
With these 6 CDs it is possible to begin to get an idea of some very interesting ways of understanding the Middle Ages. CD 1 promotes knowledge of a variety of early chant styles from before Gregorian Chant. CD 2 examines the width of Gregorian chant including a Requiem Mass and describing the problems of interpreting the notation. CD 3 deals with the music of the...
Published on 28 Sep 2009 by Andrew C. Mitchell

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beware
Cds 1, 2 and 4 of this set are exactly the same as Cds 1, 2 and 3 of Harmonia Mundi's SACRED MUSIC box. What a pity...
Published 19 months ago by Tout en chantant


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beginning a Mediaeval Journey, 28 Sep 2009
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Andrew C. Mitchell (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Richest Hours of the Medieval Age - A Medieval Journey (Audio CD)
With these 6 CDs it is possible to begin to get an idea of some very interesting ways of understanding the Middle Ages. CD 1 promotes knowledge of a variety of early chant styles from before Gregorian Chant. CD 2 examines the width of Gregorian chant including a Requiem Mass and describing the problems of interpreting the notation. CD 3 deals with the music of the Troubadours and the Minnesingers in the Age of Courtly Love. Examples from two of the great documents of the age are included here - the Cantigas of Santa Maria, and Carmina Burana (I love the rowdiness of the the drunken monks). CD 4 takes an entirely different approach and goes back into Notre Dame Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral and the development of polyphonies is examined. Motets from the Montpellier Codex are sung - gems of Ars Antiqua. CD 5 advances into Ars Nova in the 14th century including examples from Philippe de Vitry, Guillaume de Machaut,and Francesco Landini.On this CD I do not like Ars Subtilior but thoroughly enjoy examples of Sacred Music in England including Track 25 "Edi be thu." On CD 6 the 15th century moves on into the dawn of the Renaissance. Here I found satisfaction in extracts from an Ockeghem Requiem and some neat renaissance lute playing of pieces by Marco da L'Aquila Tracks 18 - 21. There is a very useful booklet.
Start the journey here, discover what you like and which conceptions suit you - whether from Ensemble Organum dir. Marcel Peres, The Hilliard Ensemble, Anonymous 4, The Newbury Consort, The Deller Consort directed by Alfred Deller, or others - all excellent interpreters of the age.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beware, 15 Dec 2012
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This review is from: The Richest Hours of the Medieval Age - A Medieval Journey (Audio CD)
Cds 1, 2 and 4 of this set are exactly the same as Cds 1, 2 and 3 of Harmonia Mundi's SACRED MUSIC box. What a pity...
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good tool but short on explanations, 30 Mar 2008
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This review is from: The Richest Hours of the Medieval Age - A Medieval Journey (Audio CD)
This set of six CDs is supposed to take us through the music of the Middle Ages from before Gregorian Chant to the Renaissance, but also from Byzantium to England, from the Mozarabic and Christian Iberian Peninsula to Germany. Note the Slavonic, Scandinavian and Irish traditions are missing. In fact the orthodox tradition is practically absent. These CDs insist on the fact that Gregorian music is derived or invented from traditions coming from the Middle East, what has become in the 7th and subsequent centuries Islam, or part of Islam, via Byzantium and Mozarabic Spain. But that is not enough again. The Hebraic tradition is strangely absent and with it the connection to Sumerian and old Indo-Iranian traditions that are totally absent. It also neglects the fact that the Gregorian tones are obtained from the Greek reduced scale doubled from five degrees to ten. In fact it provides us with a lot of examples of music from these centuries but does not enter details, among other things that singing was a practice that was common in monasteries and convents, but without mixing sexes. High tones had to be sung by children or young teenagers on the male side. Low tones could plainly not be sung on the female side. We will of course regret here the total absence of women in these CDs, I mean women of the Middle Ages of course, particularly Hildegarde von Bingen. These CDs though show very well the apparition of Gregorian monophony from the prosody and psalmody of before, though they do not identify the two styles yet very clearly differentiated at the time. On one side antiphons and responses, on the other side the chorals that are always built on a single harmonic line. Different tones, when they sing together, sing parallel lines or they sing one after the other, alternating their singing. Polyphony appears from there and will develop along different models from one geographical zone to another. The Romanesque tradition is that of a horizontal peregrination to the light of God in the Eastern Choir of the church and the rising sun, a peregrination of a whole congregation that collectively sings in unison. Romanesque Brittany will develop a polyphony that will be introspective and leads to meeting God in one's divine soul, even if that sounds Gnostic and it might very well be. The Gothic tradition is that of a vertical elevation to heaven, an elevation which is an individual experience conveyed by the architecture and a polyphony that makes everyone find their, his or her, own voice, tone, melody up to the sky and God's light there. The English tradition known as Norman or Tudor gothic is that of chorus singing, the different voices building a complex musical architecture with the different melodic lines of the different voices. The CDs provide the musical pieces showing that but not the details and the Slavonic tradition is totally absent. Then these shortcomings explain the rather artificial shift to the Renaissance. It Is not clearly said that any innovation is both a continuation and a "revolution" though the Ars Nova school should have led to this simple idea. This means an evolution is the result of many contextual elements but there never is anything like a brutal break or change. It is always an innovation that springs up from a tradition it does not reject completely. The Renaissance is thus the result of the Middle Ages. But that has a retrospective consequence on the Middle Ages themselves. If they could produce the Renaissance they must have been less dark than many people still pretend. And here these CDs do not integrate Umberto Eco's vision of beauty. As long as beauty was understood as divine, the music could only reflect it and the basic element was that good and evil were integrated in the creation, equally but also in a certain way homogeneously: the creation was one and contained both good and evil. This explains the long tradition, and even the Cistercian reactionary conservatism, of the unison as the target of all compositions. When differences started being seen as contrastive and having to be used in order to build a contrastive architecture, beauty no longer was in the homogenized unison, no longer was divine but purely musical. Then instrumental music became possible, chorus singing became possible, the Renaissance became possible. Beauty was no longer divine but aesthetic. These CDs provide the music that shows this reality but not the explanations. We are kind of alone in front of this music.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne & University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines
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