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Time of the Templars
CD 1 – Music for a Knight;
Estampie; Ensemble Unicorn; Oni Wytars Ensemble; Oxford Camerata/Jeremy Summerly; Manuela Schenale (soprano); Tonus Peregrinus; Carmen Cano (mezzo), Ensemble Accentus/Thomas Winner; Shirley Rumsey (lute)
CD 2 – Music of the Church (All anonymous Gregorian Chant)
Nuova Schola Gregoriana/Alberto Turco
CD 3 – Music of the Mediterranean
Ensemble Oni Wytars; Ensemble Unicorn; Tonus Peregrinus
Full track-listing at end of review
rec. various unspecified locations, unspecified dates. Compiled as set: 2007
NAXOS 8.503192 [3 CDs: 65:34 + 75:25 + 67:24]
Experience Classicsonline

Opinions will vary over this set: some may call it a good way to acquire a wide mix of medieval music quickly; others may call it an attempt by Naxos to shift some samples of its less popular repertoire and capitalise shamelessly on a famous name. You decide.
 
Everything in this collection has been previously released by Naxos in various different guises. They have been gathered together here under the most tenuous auspices imaginable! There is virtually no direct link to the Templars whatsoever here! The booklet notes don’t even claim one! Instead each CD has a brief historical blurb about the Templar order: beginning, growth and decline. Once this - non-musical - introduction has been put out of the way, they give a very brief, generalised discussion of the music with no texts or translations, by the way. This never attempts to link it directly to the Order, merely suggesting that if a Templar was alive in the Middle Ages then this is the sort of thing that he just might have heard. All this makes the whole Templar conceit rather ridiculous! It would probably have been more honest - if less catchy - if Naxos simply to market this set for what it is: an endearing collection of a broad range of medieval music, both sacred and secular. On those terms it is actually very attractive indeed.
 
Variety is the key to the first disc. There is both sacred and secular music on offer here, from poignant Crusader songs (tracks 1 to 3), rumbustious settings of Carmina Burana and anonymous laments, through to the visionary, ecstatic settings of the famous Hildegard of Bingen. Everything on this disc is very well done: the exposed instrumental playing is very fine, with caring attention to the historical detail of the instruments themselves. Similarly the singing in the sacred moments is effectively sonorous and evocative. Equal credit goes to the engineers here for capturing such a convincing church acoustic. There are some nice surprises here, such as the Cantigas by King Alfonso The Wise of Castile.
 
Disc 2 consists completely of Gregorian Chant, which presumably a Templar would have heard while he was in church?. I’m no expert in this kind of music and there’s an element in which it all sounds the same; though it’s worth saying that in many cases that is exactly the point. It is sung very clearly and accurately by the Nuova Schola Gregoriana, however, and again the church acoustic is very evocative and convincing.
 
The third disc is the most revelatory, though here the Templar connection is the most distant of all. It presents music from different traditions and courts that surrounded the Mediterranean around the times of the Crusades. Western European elements are represented by some vividly sung choruses (tracks 1 to 3) which represent secular concerns such as love, the awakening of Spring and drinking. Similarly there are sacred manuscripts from Florence and Germany. The most interesting music on this disc, however, is the contrasting music that was coming out of the contemporary Levant. The Syrian Dinaresade is a surprisingly hypnotic piece whose purpose was to draw the listener into the music as a way of meditating and transcending his environment. The Croatian and Arab elements show a mingling of the traditions of East and West, while the works of Yunus Emre show how the Turks were responding to their own mystical traditions.
 
All of the music on this set is well performed and the presentation box is attractive. Don’t buy this set if you want to find out about the musical traditions of the Templars, however, because it will get you almost nowhere. If, on the other hand, you’d like to dip into medieval music and sample a very wide variety at very little cost then this set is as good a place as any to make a start.
 
Simon Thompson

see also reviews by Gary Higginson and Brian Wilson

 
Full Track-List
CD 1 – Music for a Knight [65:34]
1. Walther von der Vogelweide (1170-1230)
Palastinalied [03:07]
2. Richard I “Coeur de Lion” (1157-1199)
Ja nuls homs pris [2:22]
3. Blondel de Nesle (1180–1200)
A l'entrant d'este que li tens s'agence [4:07]
4. Alfonso X (EL Sabio) (1221-1284)
Cantiga No. 60, "Entre Av'e Eva" [2:19]
5. Anonymous
Chominciamento di gioia: Saltarello No. 1 [2:35]
6. Anonymous
Carmina Burana: Clauso Cronos [3:38]
7. Alfonso X (EL Sabio) (1221-1284)
Cantiga No. 213, " Quen serve Santa Maria" [5:42]
8. Anonymous
Carmina Burana: Axe Phebus aureo [5:48]
9. Anonymous
Carmina Burana: Katerine collaudemus [3:28]
10. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)
O pastor animarum [1:23]
11. Raimbaut de Vaqueiras (1150–1207)
Kalenda maya [2:24]
12. Anonymous
Kyrie eleison (Ambrosian Chant) [1:33]
13. Perotin (1180-1225)
Viderunt omnes: Notum fecit [3:55]
14. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)
Kyrie eleison [4:27]
15. Anonymous
Vetus abit littera [2:23]
16. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)
Alleluia, O virga mediatrix [3:33]
17. Anonymous
Estampie [2:34]
18. Anonymous
Lamento di Tristano: La Rotta [4:30]
19. Anonymous
A la nana [3:11]
20. Anonymous
Guardame las vacas [2:16]
Estampie (1-3, 11, 17); Ensemble Unicorn (4-7, 18); Oni Wytars Ensemble (8, 9); Oxford Camerata/Jeremy Summerly (10, 14, 16); Manuela Schenale (soprano) (12); Tonus Peregrinus (13, 15); Carmen Cano (mezzo), Ensemble Accentus/Thomas Winner (19); Shirley Rumsey (lute) (20)
 
CD 2 – Music of the Church (All anonymous Gregorian Chant) [75:25]
Introitus
1. Adorate Deum [4:02]
2. Da pacem [4:33]
3. Dominus illumination mea [5:45]
4. Laetetur cor [4:46]
Gradualia
5. Dirigatur [3:09]
6. Domine, Dominus noster [3:22]
7. Iacta cogitatum tuum [3:54]
8. Laetatus sum [3:14]
Versus Alleluiatiei
9. Adorabo [2:17]
10. De profundis [3:16]
11. Deus, iudex iustus [2:51]
12. Laudate deum [1:49]
Offertorio
13. De Profundis [3:16]
14. Domine convertere [2:17]
15. Iubilate Deo universa terra [7:45]
16. Iustitiae Domini [4:15]
Communiones
17. Circuibo [2:04]
18. Dicit Dominus [3:51]
19. Dominus firmamentum meum [2:23]
20. Qui manducat [2:17]
21. Gustate et videte [3:29]
Nuova Schola Gregoriana/Alberto Turco
 
CD 3 – Music of the Mediterranean [67:24]
1. Anonymous
Bach, bene venies [5:58]
2. Anonymous
Tempus transit gelidum [5:07]
3. Anonymous
Tempus est iocundum [5:58]
4. Traditional Syrian
Dinaresade [13:50]
5. Traditional Macedonian
Nevestinko oro [3:17]
6. Anonymous German
Sei willekommen Herre Christ [4:38]
7. Traditional Croatian
Kod Bethlehema [1:43]
8. Traditional Croatian
Koleda na Bozic [1:02]
9. Traditional Turkish
Dudul [2:38]
10. Christian-Arabic Tradition
Kyrie Eleison [3:17]
11. Christian-Arabic Tradition
De la crudel morto de Cristo [1:59]
12. Yunus Emre (1241-1308)
Sallalahu ala Muhammed [4:41]
13. Yunus Emre (1241-1308)
Pesrev [1:28]
14. Yunus Emre (1241-1308)
Ey, Dervisler [4:57]
15. Traditional Jewish
Keh Moshe [1:46]
16. Adam de la Halle (c.1245–c.1288)
Robin m’aime [3:01]
17. Adam de la Halle (c.1245–c.1288)
Mout me fu grief li departir [1:26]
Ensemble Oni Wytars (1-5, 7-9, 15); Ensemble Unicorn (6); Tonus Peregrinus (10-14, 16, 17)
 


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