Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android


Tudor 7188


Vaughan Williams Symphony 3 etc.


Lyrita New Recording


Lyrita Premiere Recordings

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

 

 

 

REVIEW



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 

alternatively
CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Pierre de LA RUE (c.1460-1518)
Missa de Feria [25.18]
O domine, Jesu Christe (two lutes) [2.43]
Regina Celi (two lutes) [4.06]
Salve Regina (two lutes) [3.25]
Pater de celis Deus [9.36]
Missa Sancta Dei genitrix [22.39]
Gothic Voices/Christopher Page
Christopher Wilson (lute); Shirley Rumsey (lute)
rec. September 1997, Boxgrove Priory, Chichester, United Kingdom
Originally issued as CDA67010
HYPERION HELIOS CDH 55296 [65.35]

Experience Classicsonline


It was over the twenty or more years that Gothic Voices were producing their annual and eagerly awaited recording; in all about twenty discs. There is no doubt that although Christopher Page caused much controversy in the otherwise quiet coterie of early music scholarship their performances were often riveting, involving and exciting. One admired the ensemble work, the choice of repertoire, the revealing booklet notes and the sheer quality of the singing. Almost everything was a cappella with just an occasional medieval harp which Page himself played. It seemed that the music spoke much better without the colourings of weird and wonderful crumhorns, cornemuse and percussion that we had been used to. To a great degree this is an opinion still held by many including this reviewer.
 
All that said, I started to have some reservations in the mid-1990s, if not earlier, when I first heard an a cappella version of Machaut’s Rose Liz by the American group Project Ars Nova on New Albion Records (NA068). I knew the Gothic Voices version on The Mirror of Narcissus (Hyperion CDA 66087) but had come to find it chaste and overly clean, very open and front of the mouth. This American version was a little more closed, subtle and rather more melancholy with a lovely rubato-like sensitivity to line that Page’s bright, harder-edged reading did not possess. I fell in love with this music for the first time.
 
I then started to ask myself questions about dynamics. I have sung much early music from my boyhood and listened to and studied a great deal. I am aware that the audience’s attention often needs to be held and one way of achieving this is through dynamic shading. This is surely a natural and needful thing for performers and listeners. In the GV recordings of secular music most of the pieces last two or three minutes and in that case the problem is not especially acute however when they started to tackle Mass settings, spinning polyphony over an extended period then lack of dynamic colouring became a problem. We have no idea how medieval musicians approached dynamics and many will argue that the general thinning and thickening of texture, the rise and fall of lines will create dynamics naturally. I have remained unconvinced.
 
I needed to listen again to a continental group and get away from the Oxbridge sound that GV represented. I didn’t have far to look. I chose a Mass by de La Rue’s contemporary Josquin, his Missa Gaudeamus performed by A Sei Voce. This was recorded in 1997 (Auvidis E8612). They use a slightly larger group, but one to a part for certain sections and children on the top part, but that’s another story. I only had to go as far as the opening Kyrie to hear a superb dynamic contrast between the Kyrie and the Christe which was hushed and mysterious. Throughout their performance dynamic contrast serving to highlight structure and text is prevalent. This makes their performance not only more musically interesting but also spiritually more concentrated. Dynamic contrasts like this might be considered to be Romantic but who is to say that to a certain extent this is not what Josquin and de la Rue expected to happen.
 
As I listened to de la Rue’s motet, the canonic six-part Pater de celis Deus, recorded here by GV, I realized how incredibly uninteresting, inexpressive and even dull the performance was. I have felt the same about GV’s recording of the anonymous Missa Caput (Hyperion CDA66857). Another reason I started to feel this was because of the unrelenting tempo. The Missa de Feria is an extremely professional piece of work. It is meant as a workaday or as lay-clerks often call these things ‘washday’ service but if it has anything at all profound to say then through this performance or the music itself it has sadly eluded me. One other reason may be, and setting aside for one minute the scholarly need for solid evidence, is that surely there needs to be tempo variety of some sort. A Sei Voce as well as other (often continental) groups attend to this, quite naturally depending on the exigencies of the text, not in an excessive (Romantic) sense but by using their musical sensibilities both as performers and as potential listeners.
 
In his brilliantly argued book ‘The Modern Invention of Medieval Music’ (Cambridge University Press, 2002) Daniel Leech-Wilkinson devotes over twenty pages to discussion of GV’s CDs sometimes in some detail. Even so, he never once mentions this de La Rue disc and the reason, I believe, is that it is not one of their most interesting or, for that matter, most controversial discs. In addition Pierre de La Rue himself is something of an outsider never having been taken up by a writer or group. He is less impressive, less innovative, less tightly ordered than say Josquin or Brumel. His music is even more imitative than that of his contemporaries and seems to be a little too clever. One wonders why Page decided to record him.
 
Let’s look at the always informative and useful booklet notes. He writes that the composer “is still very little known” and very prolific having written “twenty-nine masses ... six Magnificats, fourteen motets” and much more. He adds later that the group, being unfamiliar with the style, found “themselves initially disorientated”. I have a feeling that he is being more honest here than he realized.
 
Having said all of that - and I’m sorry not to be entirely helpful - the four-voiced Missa Sancta Dei genetrix comes off well. I can’t decide if it’s because the singers are more on top of de la Rue’s language or whether, and this seems more likely, it is a much better piece. It is succinct and based on a memorable head motif. Page describes it as “radiant”. I’m not sure, having known this CD now for a dozen years, if I quite feel that myself. However, the expressive nature of the lines, especially the bass part, enables GV to bounce the ideas off each other like chamber music. Page describes the effect as “mutual dependency and co-operation”.
 
An especially charming feature of the disc is the sequence of three motets transcribed in the style of Phalèse the Louvainese music publisher and known to de la Rue. The transcriber, Christopher Wilson, plays them with Shirley Rumsey. They are mostly unadorned and reflect “the Flemish or north European tradition of lute playing in the lifetime of the composer.”
 
Gary Higginson 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

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

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      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

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

Nostalgia

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

Comment
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

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
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
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
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
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

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






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.