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4.0 out of 5 stars

VINE VOICEon 10 September 2012
Conductus, a form from the 12th-14th centuries using rhythmic poetic texts and sung by between one and three voices, and, where more than one voice is involved, employing the earliest explorations into polyphony with note against note, seems like a poor relation to those other, more ornate, genres of medieval vocal, organum and motet. Most sources will tell you that the function of conductus was to be sung in procession in church, perhaps as the lectionary was carried to the place where it was to be read, but the truth is we simply do not know, and this explanation is just an attempt to give a purpose solely from the meaning of the Latin word. Certainly the content of some conductus - examples here include condemnation of prostitution, a lament on the decline of learning, and criticism of corruption in the church - make it rather unlikely that all such pieces were composed with performance during church services in mind. An alternative meaning has been suggested in that they are intended to 'conduct' in the sense of give a moral lead, and this would fit with the homiletic and exhortatory nature of many of the texts.

The pieces on this recording are mostly for two parts (sung by John Potter and Christopher O'Gorman), with a single solo piece and several with three parts (the duo joined by Rogers Covey-Crump for these). If you have had any reasonable contact with early music then Potter and Covey-Crump should need no introduction. O'Gorman is new to me but his vocals are on a par with the other two.

There are some useful an interesting notes provided in the booklet discussing amongst other things the problems for modern singers in understanding how exactly conductus should be performed, along with full Latin sung texts and translations. Part of a larger scholarly and experimental project, a second and third disc are to follow.
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