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Spirits of England & France 3 CD

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Conductor: None
  • Composer: Various
  • Audio CD (1 Sept. 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: HYPERION HELIOS
  • ASIN: B002HESQK8
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 75,457 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Qui Veut Mesdire
  2. Amoreux Suy
  3. Adieu Mon Amoreuse Joye
  4. Pour Une Fois
  5. Ay! Doloureux
  6. Un Petit Oyselet
  7. Un Petit Oyselet
  8. Laissies Ester
  9. Se Liesse
  10. Descendi in Ortum Meum
  11. Gloria
  12. Magnificat Secundi Toni
  13. Beata Dei Genitrix
  14. Se La Belle
  15. J'ayme Bien Celui
  16. Il M'est Avis
  17. Exultavit Cor in Domino
  18. En Katerina Solennia/Virginalis Concio/Sponsus Amat Sponsum

Product Description

Binchois et ses contemporains / Gothic Voices - Christopher Page, direction

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is the third cd in the great series of Helios cds released by Hyperion, which features early music of England and France. This cd features music of “Binchois and his contemporaries”.

There are eighteen pieces on the cd, six of which are written by Gilles Binchois (c. 1400 – 1460), one of the most important composers of the early Burgundian school of the fifteenth century, and a contemporary of Guillaume Dufay (c. 1397 – 1474), and of the English composer John Dunstable (c. 1390 – 1453).

Other composers featured are:
Cardot (c. 1380 – 1470)
Gilet Velut (fl. c. 1410 – 1430)
Johannes Legrant (fl. c. 1420 – 1440)
Johannes de Lymburgia (fl. 1400 – 1440)
Leonel Power (d. 1445)
John Dunstable
Pierre Fontaine (c. 1380 – c. 1450)
Guillaume de Machaut (c. 1300 – 1377)
Byttering (fl. c. 1410 – 1420)
And the well-known medieval composer, Anonymous.

There are four instrumental pieces, by Binchois, Cardot, Velut and Legrant. The other pieces feature vocal performances, which are performed by Catherine King, Margaret Philpot, Rogers Covey-Crump, Paul Agnew, Steven Harrold, Julian Podger, Leigh Nixon, Stephen Charlesworth and Henry Wickham. Shirley Rumsey, Christopher Wilson and Christopoher Page play the lute.

There is a great accompanying booklet, which outlines the program, and has all the lyrics, and translations of the pieces, which is really interesting. The booklet explains that English music of the earlier fifteenth century will be explored in forthcoming volumes of the series, so music on this cd from England is confined to Dunstable and Byttering, and one anonymous piece.
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By H. A. Weedon TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 Mar. 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
All the CD recordings made by Gothic Voices are first-rate and this one is no exception. Although this recording is, in part, more dolorous than the others, it's not extensively so. For instance, there's a rousing Gloria on track 11 and an uplifting Magnificat on track 12. Tracks 1, 4, 6 and 9 are given over to some liquiditous lute playing. The saddest piece is Ay! doloureux sung for over eight and a half minutes by a tenor and two baritones on track 5. However, since music is capable of expressing every emotion, it would be a sorry state of affairs if we were to downgrade parts of music compositions on account of their being too doleful. What these recordings of medieval music show us is that composers living 800 years ago were every bit as capable of nuancing multifaceted emotional experiences as are any of their modern counterparts.

The devising of a system of written notation was a great step forward and we shall never know precisely what very early music sounded like. Happily, such groups as Gothic Voices have resurrected and performed for us a vast array of medieval European music, enabling us to say, along with Picasso when he first set eyes on the cave paintings: 'We have learnt nothing.' We can move the notes around, invent new instruments and improve on others, compile orchestras and develop the quality of the human voice as much as we like, but all this will never become more than a variation upon what was already there, if only, in some cases, in embryonic form waiting for the midwifery of future composers.
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It's quite a varied programme on offer with this disc with a range of secular and sacred forms. The great Gilles Binchois gets the largest share of compositions featured, there is one piece each from John Dunstable and Guillaume de Machaut, plus there are several much less well known artists - Cardot, Gilet Velut, Johannes Legrant, Johannes De Limburgia, Leonel Power, Pierre Fontaine, that prolific composer "Anonymous", and a motet, seemingly composed for the wedding of Henry V and Catherine of Valois, by the Englishman simply known as Byttering.

Though it pains me to say it for a recording by an ensemble so technically skilled as Gothic Voices, the choice of programme itself is the problem here. The common denominator for the majority of the compositions is that they are, though beautiful, somewhat dolorous and morose. It's a bit like listening to a Renaissance equivalent of a Smiths or Joy Division album. Overall there is not the same uplifting quality to it as with the Gothic Voices discs I have heard.

The accompanying booklet provides some notes in English, French & German, plus full French & Latin sung texts with English translations.
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The scholarship of Christopher Page and the musicianship and empathy for the music of the period of Gothic Voices makes this third volume in the series a delight to hear. The music has an air of tranquility that is most welcome in this hectic modern world. This is truly music to soothe the troubled spirit and calm the temper: altogether a a total pleasure.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x99c5ad5c) out of 5 stars 1 review
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x97b579c0) out of 5 stars My End is My Beginning, and My Beginning My End 10 Feb. 2010
By Gio - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
That's a translation of part of the text of a ballade by Guillaume Machaut (1300-1377), in which the three vocal lines are sung forwards and backwards in contrary motion to each other. That ballade is not included on this CD, but the Machaut piece "Il m'est avis" is just as beautifully hyper-rational while sounding almost improvised and wild. A century later, Gilles Binchois (1400-1460) was still writing in the "subtle art" style pioneered by Machaut; in fact Binchois took the style, with its bafflingly complex rhythmic conjuring, farther than anyone. One could argue that Binchois was the culmination of the Medieval in music, the apotheosis of subtlety, and yet he was also clearly the prime influence on the musical thought of Johannes Ockeghem, whom one could identify as the founder of the new wave of polyphony, the "Franco-Flemish" school that supplanted the "Burgundian" of Binchois and Dufay.

Six of the 18 tracks on this CD are devoted to works in French and Latin by Binchois. They are, in my well-known humble opinion, the best-sung and most persuasive performances of Binchois ever yet recorded... better even than the Binchois performances by The Binchois Consort! The other tracks include quite fine pieces by contemporaries of Binchois from both France and England; two of the English composers are relatively familiar - John Dunstable and Leonel Power - but most of these tracks are unique, possibly not sung artfully since the 15th C. There are no tracks devoted to Guillaume Dufay, and that's significant. Binchois and Dufay were exact contemporaries, probably both born in 1400, but Dufay represented (unknowingly, of course) the direction polyphony would take, toward Obrecht and Josquin. Binchois is such a wonderful anomaly, a radical experimenter in musical textures and surface complexities, yet firmly fixed in the "fixed forms" he'd inherited from the 14th C. His end was truly his beginning.

The singing on this CD is so close to perfect that, even if the music perplexes you, you'll have to appreciate the artistry. The nine singers include such famous soloists and choristers as Paul Agnew, Rogers Covey-Crump, Catherine King, and Margaret Philpot. All the singing is one-on-a-part, and most of the pieces are for three voices, so plenty of variety is to be heard in the combinations of soprano, alto, tenor & bass. Added variety comes with the inclusion of three pieces arranged as 'carmina' for a trio of lutes, played in the Medieval fashion with plectra. Otherwise, this is a rigorously authentic all-voice performance; there are no bells and drums, no charming instrumental oddities, no stagecraft tricks to appeal to listeners who don't quite understand the musical idiom. Don't think that I despise instruments! My only personal approach to this music is by way of playing it on shawm or recorder, and I have good evidence that it was thus played in its era. But it was vocal in its essence; if any instrument joined with singers, it would have been a plucked string. Given the mastery of vocal technique that Gothic Voices displays here, other instruments would be like candy sprinkles on the delicious frosting of a splendid cake.

This CD is Volume 3 of Gothic Voices' "The Spirits of England and France". It's the most interesting of the three, to my ears, including the most sophisticated repertoire of late Medieval Europe. The recording was made in 1995, so I feel a little guilty about not having noticed it until recently. The CDs issued by Gothic Voices prior to 1995 were 'interesting' but somewhat brittle in technique. Since that time, Gothic Voices has developed into one of the very best and most authentic of "early music" ensembles. I've recently reviewed their performance of a later work - Pierre de la Rue' Missa Ferialis. I haven't heard a single less-than-excellent track on any CD from Gothic Voices recorded in this Third Millennium of ours, and I'll probably be offering more praise for their artistry in upcoming reviews.
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