9 Songs, 1 Hour, 4 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Mastered for iTunes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Mastered for iTunes
TITLE TIME
6:48
3:41
7:33
4:38
21:02
4:34
1:44
6:56
7:26

Ratings and Reviews

Intimate Music, Intimate Performances

DCD Records

Machaut’s poem Le Voir Dit, written when he was in his sixties, recounts a love affair between himself and a young girl. Machaut included several pieces of music to help illustrate the text – a true multimedia medieval work of art.

This is spare, yet intimate music. Machaut was acknowledged to be one of the greatest poets and composers of his age – and that dual mastery is apparent. The 20-minute Le Lay De Bon Esperance, for example, is set for solo voice. Yet the text and music so perfectly match that the emotion of the poem is communicated even when the listener (such as myself) understands not a word.

The polyphonic songs, such as Se Pour Ce Muir, are textbook examples of ars nova. Macheaut uses isorhythms to develop each line independently. And yet all the voices work together, making the sound an organic whole that is as stark and beautiful as the Gothic architecture that inspired it.

The Orlando Consort is recorded with microphones closely placed. It’s a very clean record with virtually no ambiance. And in this case, that’s a good thing. Unlike Machaut’s religious works, meant to be sung in the resonant spaces of cathedrals, these songs are private messages to the reader of Le Voir Dit. Which is how the Orlando Consort performs them.

About Orlando Consort

Four young English singers were invited to tour Great Britain in 1988 by the Early Music Network. The group that resulted, the Orlando Consort, has become one of the most accomplished of its type, performing an extremely broad repertoire of vocal music largely from, but not limited to, the twelfth to fifteenth centuries.

The four singers were not only chosen for their individual vocal talents (each a recognized soloist) and for their experience in early music ensembles (including the Tallis Scholars and both the Gabrieli and Taverner Consorts), but in particular for their intellectual command of their repertoire. The group has shown a particular concern for accurate performance practice, especially in their willingness to tackle issues such as improvisation and tuning. Such expertise has led to projects with scholars such as Gregorian chant scholar Richard Crocker and early English vocal expert Roger Wibberley, among many others; the group also received the Noah Greenberg Award of the American Musicological Society in 1996 for a collaborative project with Jeanice Brooks and Daniel Leech-Wilkinson.

In addition to frequent performances at international festivals, the group has pursued an active recording schedule. Their remarkable discography has averaged one release for each year since their inception. Notable areas include early English music (John Dunstable and the recently discovered Worcester fragments), the Franco-Flemish school of composers (including Johannes Ockeghem and Josquin Desprez but also the obscure Loyset Compère), and Notre Dame polyphony (Léonin and Pérotin). Their recording John Dunstaple won the Early Music award from Gramophone magazine in 1996; Loyset Compère, Popes and Antipopes, and Worcester Fragments have also received nominations.

The founding members -- countertenor Robert Harre-Jones, tenors Angus Smith and Charles Daniels, and baritone Donald Greig -- also pursued crossover projects, most notably their work with the jazz group Perfect Houseplants (Extempore) and their medieval/modern War Requiem with actor Robert Hardy. In the early 2000s, Daniels was succeeded by Mark Dobell, and later, Harre-Jones by Matthew Venner.

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