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Chansons de Troubadours et Danses de Jongleurs
Dananza amoroso [4:19]
Amour me fait commencer une chanson [3:05]
Can vei la lauzeta mover [5:58]
Comminciamento di goia [5:18]
Ben m an perdut [6:23]
Gaucelm FAIDIT
Fortz chausa es [10: 13]
Beranguier DE PALOL
Tantm'abelis [2:59]
La nova estampida real [4:41]
Gaucelm FAIDIT
Jamais nuill terns [5:54]
Lo rossinholet selvatge [8:05]
Improvisation sur Quis dabit occuli mei [5:10]
Millenarium (Carole Matras (voice and harp), Christophe Deslignes (organetto), Thierry Gomar (percussion))
rec. Notre-Dame de Centeilles, November 2000. DDD
RICERCAR RIC 243 [63:10]

In this recent release from Ricercar, Millenarium attempt to reconstruct typical troubadour and jongleur performances, recreating their songs and dances. Texts have been cut, and an improvisatory air added, as the ensemble give an impression of all the various sounds, instrumentations and styles that the troubadours might have assimilated in their travels, and used in their music.
Composers featured include Bernard de Ventadorn, Beranguier de Palol and Gaucelm Faidit – names that may not be unfamiliar to lovers of early music.
In the opening, anonymous Dananza amoroso, Millenarium bring the music to life in a spirited display of vivacity and vitality. This is one of a number of instrumental works on the disc, along with Improvisation sur Quis dabit occuli mei, an improvisation on an anonymous Latin planctus from the twelve century, and Comminciamento di goia, from the famous fourteenth century loferntine manuscript. The performance of this is here slower and slightly tamer, less effusive, wild and virtuosic than the Dufay Collective’s version - on their fantastic A L’estampida disc – although I like the inclusion of the bell towards the end of Millenarium’s recording. All instrumental works on this disc are played with great proficiency and understanding.
Bernard de Ventadorn was one of the most famous troubadours. He worked for an illustrious line-up of the Viscount of Vantedour, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and then Raymond, Count of Toulouse, before taking up the mantle of a Cistercian monk on Raymond’s death. His moving Can vei la lauzeta mover is unusual, in that it is about renunciation of both love and music, when the lover, his affections unrequited, goes into a self-imposed exile, turning his back on his previous existence entirely. The song is full of a bitter-sweet melancholy, and Carole Matras’s strong voice suits it, and sets the mood very well indeed. Ben m an perdut is another song about a rejected lover and his exile. The percussion is particularly atmospheric and renders the music quite haunting.
Gaucelm was nicknamed “Faidit”, meaning “the exiled one”, probably a reference to his penchant for travelling, as he went from court to court through all of Italy, France and Hungary, and even took part in the fourth crusade at the end of his life before returning to his birthplace of Limousin. Fortz chausa es was written as an elegy for Richard the Lionheart who had been his patron, and in typical laudatory Troubadour style, Richard is here likened to Alexander the Great, Charlemagne and King Arthur. The song is extremely poignant, and brilliantly performed, with its long instrumental introduction climaxing as more and more percussion instruments join the fray, before the organetto enters with sad but almost malevolently melancholic chords. The voice weaves a laments and sometimes, very movingly, almost chants a threnody above the instruments. This was the highlight of the disc for me.
In Tantm'abelis the knight Beranguier de Palol, eulogises his beloved in an upbeat, almost frenetic song full of joy, love and hope. Two contrasting works by Gaucelm Faidit precede the concluding improvisation - the joyful Jamais nuill terns and the gently lamenting Lo rossinholet selvatge in which the nightingale’s song comforts the poet, who, despite the fact that his beloved does not return his affections, decides to remain faithful to her nonetheless.
This is an enjoyable disc – a good collection of beautiful songs and dances. The performances are of a consistently high standard, and include some amazing virtuosity from Thierry Gomor on percussion.

Em Marshall


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