Ars Antiqua
Raimon Llull (Raymond Lully) - chronicle of a medieval voyage: conversion, study and contemplation

Capella de Ministrers (Aziz Samsaoui (saz çura, ud, qanun); Jota Martínez (hurdy gurdy, organistrum, otoman and medieval lute, citole, setar, guiterna, baglama, anafil, pedal organetto); José Luis Pastor (medieval lute, citole); Eduard Navarro (duduk, oud, shawms, bagpipes, xalumó); Miguel Ángel Orero (psalterium, percussions); Pau Ballester (tintinnabulum, percussions); Spyros Kaniaris (lyra de Pontos, bouzouki); David Antich (recorders); Manuel Vilas (medieval harp); Ignasi Jordà (exaquier, organetto))
Musica Reservata Barcelona (Isabel Juaneda, Marta Rodrigo, Mercè Trujillo, Jordi Blanco, Tomàs Maxé, Albert Riera, Antonio Trigueros, Jordi Abelló)/Carles Magraner (viella, viola da gamba)
rec. dbc studios, 10-15 September 2015

Raymond Lully died, according to the CD essay writer in 1316 (700 years ago); other sources say 1315 — anyway, seven hundred years ago more or less. Who is he you might cry? The answer: a philosopher and writer of great distinction and also an inveterate traveller.

In these days, when early music groups cobble together a sort of dog's breakfast of a collection of pieces, they often need to tag them onto a project or personality or event. That is what has happened in this case. However, that’s not in any way to decry the standard of performance or the interest engendered. We are taken on a European journey hearing music that was popular during Lully's lifetime and with which he might have been familiar.

Lllull or Lully was born in Majorca. In his earlier days he was, like St. Augustine, something of a miscreant, but he had ‘a conversion’. The essay tells us, in somewhat convoluted English, that the CD offers "a musical tour to accompany the first stages in the life of Lully from the moment in which occurred radical changes which he believes were divinely inspired and which will lead him to intellectual illumination, are conceived, as found in his book ‘Llibre de contemplacio en Déu’. Later on whilst living in quite contemplation in Montpellier, he wrote the ‘Llibre del mon contra els errors del infedels." In later years he wrote the ‘Art of finding truth’: the ‘Art de trobar veritat’. Tr. 13 has a recitation from his ‘Llibre d’amic e amat’ over an improvised harp accompaniment. This is immediately followed by a lovely troubadour song Amis, Amis also on the subject of various kinds of love and friendship.

Capella de Ministrers under Carles Magraner have a large discography and this disc is one of a set concentrating on the period known as the ‘Ars Antiqua’; that's the period before Philippe de Vitry (d.1361) up to about 1300-20. The other discs are called ‘Peregrinato’ and ‘Mediterraneum’. For some years I have had their disc ‘La Harpe de Melodie’ (Music at the time of the Papal Schism), recorded in 2005 (CDM0512) but I’ve only rarely played it because I took a dislike to their over-colourful orchestrations as it were. I also had to contend with an affected vocal style from Pilar Esteban and José Hernandez Pator.

For this new disc we have eight voices of ‘Musica Reservata Barcelona’ and ten instrumentalists playing a wide variety of instruments including a bouzouki. The sound is much fuller and perhaps I might say ‘professional’ in presentation; just more convincing.

The music chosen has mostly been recorded by other groups and comes from the period 1232-1315. We are taken on a journey both musical and physical across Europe looking at some of the major manuscripts and styles prevalent at the time. Represented therefore is the ‘Carmina Burana’ manuscript with the first track Veris dulcis in tempore. Then comes the 14th Century Catalan manuscript, the Llibre Vermell with Los set gotxs recomptarem - about the seven joys of Mary – in which each of he singers is given a solo verse. Alfonso el Sabio’s Cantigas de Santa Maria is represented with Non sofre Santa Maria (played instrumentally). In 1172, in Spain, was written the Book of the Miracles of our Lady of Rocamadour, a hillside holy shrine on the pilgrim route to Compostella. From the Montpellier manuscript, where Lully spent some time we are given Quant je parti de m’amie; this is played, like three other tracks, instrumentally. Also represented are some troubadour songs, Lully must have known many, including one by the little known Maitfré Ermengau.

I have to say that the more I listened to this disc the more I found it evocative and interesting. It captures the imagination and is full of contrast. If you need a CD of general early medieval music then this would be a good place to start.

The disc comes in a folding card cover with the booklet firmly attached. Pleasingly and unusually we are given the sources of each piece and there are some attractive manuscript illustrations in colour and in monochrome. The texts are given and translated although some in a curious, King James Bible sort of style.

Gary Higginson


1. Anon: Veris dulcis in tempore (Carmina Burana) [3.50]
2. Guiraut d’Espanha (fl.1250-1292) Ben volgra, s’esser poge [3.17]
3. Adam de la Halle (d.1287) Je muir d’amourete [2.44]
4. Anon: Plany de la Vierge [4.16]
5. Anon: Alta Trinitá beata (Lauda di Cortona) [8.27]
6. Anon: Quant je parti de m’amie (Codex Montpellier [3.11]
7. Anon: Los set gotxs recomptarem (Llibre Vermell) [8.28]
8. Alfonso X ’El Sabio’(1221-1284) Non sofre Santa Maria [2.51]
9. Maitfré Ermengau (1280-1322) Dregz de natura comanda [2.54]
10. Adam de Saint-Victor (1112-1146) Mundi renovatio [3.43]
11. Dansse real (instrumental) [3.39]
12. Alfonso X el Sabio-Jaume II d’Arago; Cantiga Mayre de Deu e fylha [7.29]
13. Anon Reading from ‘Amic e amat’ by Ramon Lully and Anon: Amis, amis [7.02]
14. Adam de la Halle (a reading - On doit plaindre) [2.21]
15. Adam de la Halle Fi, maris de vostre amour [2.15]

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