> Popes and Antipopes METCD1008 [JW]: Classical Reviews- April 2002 MusicWeb-International

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Gloria, Clemens deus artifex tota clentia
Pictagore per dogmata/O terra sancta/Rosa vernans

Mayhuet de JOAN

Inclite flos orti Gebenesis

Courtois et sages
Philipoctus de CASERTA

Par les bons Gedeon
Johannes CICONIA

O Petre, Christi discipule
Bartolomeus de BONONIA

Arte psalentes

Benedicta viscera/Ave mater gratie/Ora pro nobis
Johannes CICONA

Gloria Suscipe Trinitas

Eya dulcis/Vale placens
Antonio de CIVITATE

Clarus ortu/Gloriosa mater

Gia per gran nobelta

Te dignitas presularis
Guillaume DUFAY

Balsamus et munda cera
Supremum est
Ecclesie militantis

Orlando Consort
Recorded for BBC Radio. First broadcast 11 and 18 September 1994. Released by arrangement with BBC Worldwide Ltd.
METRONOME MET CD 1008 [70.50]


Experience Classicsonline

There were times listening to this deeply impressive recording when I wondered whether the Orlando Consort were not, after all, the greatest ensemble of its kind anywhere. Its that kind of disc. Allied to a thorough and intellectual grounding comes a persuasive and sustained beauty of tone that coalesces to form a unity of idea and execution. That said this is not easy repertoire because Ars Subtilior is of heightened intellectual complexity, both literary and musical. The music on this disc which comes from two 1994 BBC broadcasts and is released by arrangement reflects the Papal schisms and the Dual Papacies of Rome and Avignon between 1317 and 1447. It was the era of Petrarch and Jan Hus, religious ferment and intellectual fireworks. The sacred music recorded here is generally austere and complex though lightened by knowing internalised puns (in the case of an anonymous setting of Gloria, Clemens written for Clement I where the pun is on his name and clemency). In addition very little multi-movement music has survived so the programming is necessarily disparate with composers ranging from Dufay to several anonymous settings the former being among the greatest moments on the disc. Both Balsamus et munda cera and Supremum est are extraordinarily sophisticated settings with the latter dazzling both in imaginative conception and its execution by the Consort. The songs have an elegant and quick sensuality that is immediately attractive; Zacharies Gia per gran nobelta is especially invigorating. This interpolation of the two genres, the sacred and the profane, adds immeasurably to the texture of the disc, properly reflective of the musical impulses of the time. There is an excellent note from the scholar Margaret Bent that clarifies and illuminates the musico-political history of the period. And as I said before the Orlando Consorts singing is really beyond praise as is the whole production.

Jonathan Woolf


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