Aureole etc.




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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

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Classical Editor: Rob Barnett



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De La Pierre Au Son: Ancient Greek Music
ANONYMOUS

Fanfare (5th/6th century BC).
Euripides, Orestes (408 BC).
Euripides and Iphigineia at Aulis (405 BC).
Two Delphic Hymns to Apollo: - Athenaios; Limenios (128 BC).
Excerpts from Bellermann's Treatise (4th century BC);
Ǽschylus, Ajax (about 160 BC).
Instrumental Fragments from Contrapollinopolis (about 160 BC).
Fragment of Orestes (about 170-175 BC).
Christian Hymn of Oxyrhynchus (end of 3rd Century AD).

Ensembe Kérylis/Annie Bélis.
Rec. Chapelle Saint-Augustin de Vallerysthal, Moselle on July 4th-7th, 1996. [DDD]
K617 K617069 [47'29]

 

Now this really does come under the heading, 'Early Music': the incisive first track ('Fanfare') was painted on a vase of the 5th/6th century BC. In her preface to this recording, Annie Bélis describes the musicological problems posed by this ancient music. Not the least of these is the original musical notation used (derived from the Greek alphabet, and with a theoretical maximum of 1620 signs, and divided into two systems of notation, one for songs and one for instrumental parts). On top of this was the rhythmic notation. If it were not for the treatise of Alpius (3rd century AD), the actual transcription of this music might well not have been possible.

This is fascinating, totally mesmeric music. Given the musicological detail of the booklet, however, it is difficult to fathom why texts and translations are not included. Still, the experience of travelling so far back in time is a powerful one: try track 4, the first of the two Delphic Hymns to Apollo dating from 128BC and unearthed in June 1893 , with its arresting, percussive opening and its dynamic, unison voices. Many of the trits are found in the other Delphic Hymn on this recording. Again, the extended stamp of the percussion, which follows the line of the melody, take on a moving and inevitable effect.

'Anonymes de Bellermann,' as they are described in the booklet (Bellermann refers to the first publisher) comes from an anonymous treatise (pre-5th century AD). This work is for kithara solo and has a lonely, desolate air about it . From these chosen examples, it is perhaps possible to get an idea of the sheer variety of invention this disc presents. 'Seikilos' is preceded by a French and Greek text which contextualises the other-worldly wordless soprano of the main body of the song. It is a simple melody, found engraved on the funereal stela of a certain Seikilos.

Each track on this disc presents its own delights for the listener.

Interestingly, the collection ends with a Christian Hymn (3rd century AD), overlapping the end of Ancient Greek and the beginning of Christian sacred music. Its slow-moving voices evoke Gregorian chant. It was discovered at Oxyrhynchus in Egypt.

Notes are detailed, but readable. The intensity of the performances by the Kérylos Ensemble only serves to confirm their dedication. Despite its low total playing time, this issue deserves the highest of recommendations.


Colin Clarke





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