MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Crotchet AmazonUK AmazonUS


The Feast of Fools
First Vespers [9:05]
Music from the Office [9:50]
The Drinking Bout in the Cathedral Porch [3:06]
Mass of the Asses, Drunkards and Gamblers [20:36]
Music from the Office [11:25]
Second Vespers – The Ceremony of the Baculus [12:18]
The Banquet [5:43]
Processional [1:56]
New London Consort/Philip Pickett
rec. Temple Church, London, February 1990
DECCA/L’OISEAU–LYRE 4780028 [74:50]


Experience Classicsonline

Reviewing this CD is something of a sentimental journey for me. My copy of the original, then brand-new release was bought for me in Tower Records on Piccadilly in London by a very dear friend and has been an anchor of my admittedly rather meagre medieval collection ever since.

L’Oiseau-Lyre was a bit like Decca’s answer to the Archiv label, full of interesting repertoire played on original or authentic instruments and rich with an aura of responsibly applied research. The original release had notes by Philip Pickett and listings of musical sources, plus the instruments used and their makers. I’m glad to see that the full vocal texts plus translations have been kept in, but while Andrew Stewart’s notes are well written and useful I can’t really see what was wrong with the original ones. The cover picture is now the more colourful but misplaced ‘Peasant Wedding Feast’ by Pieter Breughel, where the original had a more universally applicable illustration: Drunkenness from a fourteenth-century manuscript ‘Treatise on the Seven Vices’. It’s a kind of dumbing down in my view – not to any disastrous extent I admit, but scholars will have to look elsewhere if they want to know more about the deeper background to the music on this re-release.

The Feast of Fools was a real medieval event, held somewhere between Christmas and Epiphany and often on New Year’s Day, so you could say that parts of the tradition are alive today as a kind of secular remnant – fused with those from pagan times of course, before any Druids write in to complain. The idea of the feast was the inversion of status: the functions of the upper echelons of the church being taken by their inferiors such as the lower clergy, choirboys and the like. Using contemporary 13th century manuscripts which describe such events, Philip Pickett made a selection of the music which would have been used, or abused, during the kind of mock services and ceremonies which took place. Many of the pieces are performed straight, with wonderful renditions of classic pieces such as Perotin’s Salvatoris hodie. The ‘desecrated’ music on the disc includes the plainchant which becomes increasingly unruly during The Drinking Bout in the Cathedral Porch. This is still great fun, though now sounds mildly self-conscious and rather gentle. Almost as ‘shocking’ and equally raucous is the Kyrie asini or “Ass’s Kyrie” in which the parts of the mass would have ended with an imitation of a donkey’s braying, and culminating in the congregation braying in response to the final Ite missa est. There are some fun animal noises elsewhere in the Mass of the Asses, Drunkards and Gamblers, and plenty of other drunken singing, lively drumming and danceable tunes. The out of tune Verbum patris hodie from the second set of ‘Music from the Office’ is truly excruciating.

For those of you who are not so interested in the intricate formalities and formalised proceedings of medieval church services, this recording serves up some remarkable and entertaining insights by showing some of the anti-rituals which were used by the lower church classes to blow off steam. The instrumental and vocal performances are all filled with character, and are expertly high spirited and as spiritually entertaining as a papal tickle-stick. This disc was a top recommendation in 1992, and, as nothing has changed, makes a very welcome return.

Dominy Clements



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.