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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Masterful (and cheap!)
Jeremy Summerly's Camerata give a sturdy, controlled, yet vigorous rendering of Machaut's greatest achievement, the Messe de Notre Dame, possibly the most famous, certainly one of the most eminent pieces of the Medieval age. The rest of the tracks are not mere trifles simply to lard out the CD, though: the secular pieces from Le Voir Dit are not only splendid, but...
Published on 1 Aug 2001 by P. A. Murphy

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional vocal talent dulled by the recording quality
I've now probably got something like eight or nine recordings of Machaut's Messe de Notre Dame, one of the treasures of early music, in fact of all music anywhere and of any time - frankly I've lost count. This could have been in the top rank of them - there are after all some talented vocalists performing including the fabulous countertenor Robin Blaze - yet it falls...
Published on 20 Jan 2012 by E. L. Wisty


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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Masterful (and cheap!), 1 Aug 2001
By 
P. A. Murphy "Paulie" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Machaut: La Messe de Nostre Dame; Songs from Le Voir Dit (Audio CD)
Jeremy Summerly's Camerata give a sturdy, controlled, yet vigorous rendering of Machaut's greatest achievement, the Messe de Notre Dame, possibly the most famous, certainly one of the most eminent pieces of the Medieval age. The rest of the tracks are not mere trifles simply to lard out the CD, though: the secular pieces from Le Voir Dit are not only splendid, but insightful too, revealing a great deal about the (not altogether pure!) mind of one of Medieval music's most interesting figures, and treated with similar verve by Summerly and his accomplished colleagues. For scholars of music, enthusiasts of history or simply those who have an ear for something that is very beautiful, please do buy this - there's really no excuse at the budget price!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can't stop listening to it., 18 Mar 2009
This review is from: Machaut: La Messe de Nostre Dame; Songs from Le Voir Dit (Audio CD)
I'm not yet one of those people who has heard many recordings of Machaut; This cd was my introduction to his music and poetry. But it totally blew me away! The music is exquisite and very relaxing to listen to. There's more than a hint of melancholy but not the sound is not oppressive. It is full, rich and passionate but still betrays great sadness.

My personal favourite is the very long monophonic song from Le Voir Dit. At first, I couldn't see how I could keep interested in such a form but now I see it as inspired. One man, alone, singing what's in his heart. It doesn't get much simpler.

To put the icing on the cake, the sound of the recording is close to holy. That might sound wishy-washy but I mean it. They used a audio group called Sensaura who capture the ambience of the cathedral in amazing way.

I thoroughly recommend this cd to anyone who wants to go further back into the music of the past.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sacred and profane delights, 26 Mar 2011
By 
Ralph Moore "Ralph operaphile" (Bishop's Stortford, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Machaut: La Messe de Nostre Dame; Songs from Le Voir Dit (Audio CD)
This is probably as early as most people go with "early music", being composed around 1365 and the first setting of the Ordinary of the Mass attributable to one composer - who was also a poet much admired by Chaucer.

The performance style here is my antidote to the controversial practice adopted by Marcel Pérès and the Ensemble Organum (see my review) which employs an incongruous singing style derived from Corsican tradition with much groaning, sliding and ornamentation. Some enjoy that iconoclastic approach but I prefer to hear the music as it is done here by a small, professional choir who are never too monochrome or precious and happy to inject the occasional little turn in the line as indicated by the "plicas" which appear in 14C music and for the last time in Machaut's manuscript. There are four parts rather than the conventional three, a contratenor moving around the same tessitura as the tenor. The singing, led by Robin Blaze's mellifluous countertenor, is usually smooth and harmonious but sometimes agreeably tangy and just a little harsh when they want to avoid sounding too comfortable and emphasise those surprising harmonic twists and excursions into the minor. The acoustic of Reims Cathedral is perfect: clear yet spacious with enough reverberance to suggest vertical space.

The second half of the recital consists of songs from "Le Voir Dit" and has the more intimate acoustic deriving from a studio recording, as befits these passionate outpourings from the courtly tradition charting the course of a December-May romance between the poet-composer and a young admirer.

Thus this disc provides a window on an age devoid of self-conscious preciousness in that erotic love and devotion to God could be expressed with equal fervour and sincerity.

Full texts and translations are provided.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional vocal talent dulled by the recording quality, 20 Jan 2012
By 
E. L. Wisty "World Domination League" (Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Machaut: La Messe de Nostre Dame; Songs from Le Voir Dit (Audio CD)
I've now probably got something like eight or nine recordings of Machaut's Messe de Notre Dame, one of the treasures of early music, in fact of all music anywhere and of any time - frankly I've lost count. This could have been in the top rank of them - there are after all some talented vocalists performing including the fabulous countertenor Robin Blaze - yet it falls short because of the diffuse and misty sound quality in the recording. I note that the recording was made in Reims cathedral, the same venue as Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge used in their recording, yet that latter recording feels infinitely clearer.

A different group of vocalists appears on the second half of the disc presenting songs from "Le Voir Dit". Again, a decent collection of vocalists let down a bit by less than perfect sound quality, this time in a studio recording environment.

For the Mass in particular, my top three, in that order, are the Ensemble Gilles Binchois Machaut: Sacred & Secular Songs, Messe de Notre Dame, Diabolus in Musica Guillame de Machaut: Messe de Nostre Dame and Ensemble Organum Machaut: Mass de Notre Dame.

If you want to hear some of Machaut's secular songs performed and recorded in superior releases, there is the Ensemble Gilles Binchois boxed set as above on discs 2 & 3, plus the Orlando Consort Machaut: Chansons and Hilliard Ensemble Guillaume de Machaut - Motets.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Old top twenty hits., 4 May 2014
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Mr. P. Richardson (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Machaut: La Messe de Nostre Dame; Songs from Le Voir Dit (Audio CD)
These tracks go way back. I am sure I will listen to this CD again sometime, before it goes into landfill.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Early polyphony and most interesting, 8 Jan 2014
By 
Charles Lewis "Xennophon" (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Machaut: La Messe de Nostre Dame; Songs from Le Voir Dit (Audio CD)
Although I have sung a fair amount of early polyphony I did not realise that there was a form of it as early as the 14th century. It is certainly not as developed as it became 100 years later, nor would one expect it to be. But it is fascinating to hear how it was put together at that earlier time, and, as usual with Naxos, it is extremely well sung. To buy this disc second hand and as good as new for next to nothing is very gratifying.
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4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Austere medieval music, 27 Feb 2008
By 
Aquinas "summa" (celestial heights, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Machaut: La Messe de Nostre Dame; Songs from Le Voir Dit (Audio CD)
This is beautifully sung 14th century music. I have listened to it a few times and I still find it a little austere.
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Machaut: La Messe de Nostre Dame; Songs from Le Voir Dit
Machaut: La Messe de Nostre Dame; Songs from Le Voir Dit by Guillaume de Machaut (Audio CD - 1997)
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