Customer Review

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Medieval Minimalism, 1 Oct. 2007
This review is from: Perotin (Audio CD)
It is almost impossible for us at this end of the second millennium to grasp the tremendous outpouring of creative talent that resulted in the buildings, art, poetry, and music of the beginning of the same millennium - but The Hilliard Ensemble do try to make it a little easier for us.

Perotin, called `Perotinus the Great' by one visiting Englishman of the time, is a perfect starting point for a journey back into that lost world - and into the acoustic pleasures of this fine music.

Based in plainchant - the singing of the Latin text in a flowing, one note at a time melody - Perotin's music frequently takes a small section of the text and adds extra notes - sometimes from two voices, sometimes from four.

In its simplest form, one note is like the `drone' of the bagpipe - held for a long time - and the other bounces along on top of it. (I'm reminded when I listen to this type of tune of a deep, slow, cool river flowing majestically along, whilst a red, armour-plated dragonfly zooms and bounces above it, hunting.)

There is a wonderful sense of fun in this - it is easy to imagine a group of choristers playing with the sound and trying to co-ordinate their `bounces' - a bit like putting together a sequence of passes on the football field.

Another aspect of Perotin, as shown in his Beata viscera (track 8), is a deep felt reverence for all things religious, especially the Virgin Mary. Irritatingly, the booklet doesn't provide any translations so it is easy to miss the absolute beauty of the text - but not the music. In a free flowing wave of sound, the words of the poem are hoisted to heaven - like watching a sky lark.

What the Hilliard Ensemble bring to all this is a strength, a certainty of sound and a purity of line that originates as much in their work on contemporary music as it does on older traditions. And this is what makes this CD stand out - it is as much about today as it is about 900 years ago.

As the booklet points out, Perotin has influenced the likes of Steve Reich.

If you like minimalism, you'll love this - Perotin, takes a simple idea and fills a vast space - in his case, Notre-Dame Cathedral.
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Location: Timisoara, Romania

Top Reviewer Ranking: 393,299