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The Spirits Of England & France Vol 3 / Christopher Page, Gothic Voices


Release Date: 09/08/2009 
Label:  Helios   Catalog #: 55283   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Gilles BinchoisGilet VelutJohannes LegrantGuillaume de Machaut,   ... 
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



THE SPIRITS OF ENGLAND AND FRANCE—3 Christopher Page (lt, cond); Shirley Rumsey (lt); Christopher Wilson (lt); Gothic Voices (period instruments) HELIOS 55283 (66:42 Text and Translation)


Music by BINCHOIS, CARDOT, VELUT, LEGRANT, JOHANNES DE LYMBURGIA, POWER, DUNSTABLE, FONTAINE, MACHAUT, BYTTERING


This was Hyperion 66783 (19:4), the third of five discs in a series that is rapidly reappearing at midprice. That review was the Read more occasion for a restatement of the debate over accompanied vs. unaccompanied singing of early music. (It must be noted that Page’s lute trio is heard here only in separate instrumental performances, not with the singers.) I suggested that well-executed performances in either style could be praised on their own terms, but I found Page’s side of the argument entirely convincing. In any case, the ensembles that use instruments now use them more discreetly than their predecessors had. Binchois’s Magnificat on this disc was compared very favorably with René Clemencic’s raucous performance on an earlier recording. Another important comparison was Dunstable’s Beata Dei genitrix , three solo voices here contrasting with one voice and two gambas in Helga Weber’s version. Collectors who had not yet discovered music of this period when these were new now have a chance to pick up Page’s splendid series of recordings at a very good price, for Helios discs duplicate the contents of the original issues in every respect.


FANFARE: J. F. Weber

Gothic Voices continue their long-term exploration of early English and French polyphony with an offering devoted to the work of Binchois and his musical forebears of both `nationalities'. Consistent with the ensemble's usual approach to this repertoire, voices and instruments are not mixed; instead, Christopher Page is joined by the lutenists Christopher Wilson and Shirley Rumsey in energetic renderings of several of the songs: light, and delightful, relief.

The songs of Binchois are relatively late territory for Gothic Voices. It has been ten years or so — in "The Castle of Fair Welcome" (Hyperion, 11/86), to be exact — since they covered this repertoire in any depth (who can forget the chilly pathos of Dueil angoisseus?), and comparison with the new disc is instructive. Over the years there have been more, and deeper, men's voices; the hard-edged, polished chrome patina has perhaps mellowed and burnished with time. Perhaps, too, the almost obsessive concern with clarity and intonation has been allowed to ease a little, in favour of a heightened sensitivity to the affective projection of both text and music.

Perhaps, but only just. The hard edge creeps back in when the programme strays from Binchois back on to earlier repertory, such as Power's marvellous (and much-recorded) five-voice Gloria — here portrayed as an exercise in risk-taking for composer and singers alike. Its brashness, though glorious to listen to, leads to an inevitable query, for there are not one but two programmes here. Binchois's songs, characterized by their restraint and understatement, seem uneasy in the company of so many of his exuberant contemporaries and immediate predecessors (and the not-so-immediate — what is Machaut doing here?). The singers do their utmost to reflect the difference in tone, but that only makes the discrepancy more telling. This is a pity, for the Binchois pieces are finely pitched, and deserved to have more space to themselves — more space also for the singers to acclimatize themselves to Binchois's languorous melancholy. Page knows a show-stopper when he hears one, and the haunted Ay, douloureux, clocking in at nearly nine minutes, stands out from other items in the collection like a hothouse plant. A few more of this composer's songs would have been most welcome. That is not meant to belittle the rest, but to suggest that, as a programme, this particular collection is perhaps not as well-rounded as so many of its predecessors: the sum of its parts. And yet there is so much that is deeply moving and magical that anything less than a warm recommendation would be positively Scrooge-like.

-- Gramophone [1/1996] Review of original release Hyperion 66783

Volume 3 of the Hyperion reissue of Spirits of England and France series - here on the budget Helios label - is as excellent as the previous two volumes: music of the later Middle Ages for Court and Church, and Songs of the Trouveres. This programme is based around the French composer Gilles Binchois and his contemporaries, therefore focusing on the period of about 1400-1470, and commences with three Binchois works, which are then followed by a lively instrumental episode for lute by Cardot (Pour une fois). The most substantial work on the disc ensues - a searingly beautiful work by Binchois - Ay! doloureux, which is full of melancholy, brought out well by the Gothic Voices. Others pieces that particularly stand out on this admirable disc are the gloriously flamboyant and complex Laissies ester by Gilet Velut, with its incredible textures - a work in which the composer mourns the death of a fellow musician; the amazingly busy and complicated Gloria by English composer Leonel Power; the wonderfully serene Dunstable Beata Dei genitrix, and gorgeous Binchois Se la belle. There are also two delightful carols – the gentle English carol Abide, I hope, and an old carol from Agincourt, Exultavit cor in Domino. The disc concludes with Byttering’s En Katerina solennia, with its interesting rhythms. This is a thoroughly enjoyable disc. It has good notes, is well-presented, and presents the listener with a wide range of early fifteenth century French and English music. The musicianship is as high as one would expect from an ensemble whose voices include the likes of Paul Agnew and Rogers Cover-Crump - superbly phrased music from perfectly integrated voices. I thoroughly look forward to next issue in this excellent series.

-- Em Marshall, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Qui veut mesdire si mesdie by Gilles Binchois
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century; Burgundy, France 
Length: 1 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Notes: Director: Christopher Page. 
2.
Amoureux suy et me vient toute joye by Gilles Binchois
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century; Burgundy, France 
Length: 6 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Notes: Director: Christopher Page. 
3.
Adieu mon amoureuse joye by Gilles Binchois
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century; Burgundy, France 
Length: 3 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Notes: Director: Christopher Page. 
4.
Ay douloureux disant helas by Gilles Binchois
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century; Burgundy, France 
Length: 8 Minutes 43 Secs. 
Notes: Director: Christopher Page. 
5.
Magnificat secundi toni by Gilles Binchois
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century; Burgundy, France 
Length: 7 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Notes: Director: Christopher Page. 
6.
Se la belle n'a le voloir by Gilles Binchois
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century; Burgundy, France 
Length: 3 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Notes: Director: Christopher Page. 
7.
Un petit oyselet by Gilet Velut
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century; France 
Length: 1 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Notes: Director: Christopher Page. 
8.
Laissiés ester by Gilet Velut
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century; France 
Length: 3 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Notes: Director: Christopher Page. 
9.
Se liesse est de ma partie by Johannes Legrant
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century; France 
Length: 1 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Notes: Director: Christopher Page. 
10.
Il m'est avis qu'il n'est by Guillaume de Machaut
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 
Written: 14th Century; France 
Length: 4 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Notes: Director: Christopher Page. 
11.
Beata Dei genitrix, MB 41 by John Dunstable
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century; England 
Length: 4 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Notes: Director: Christopher Page. 
12.
Abide, I hope by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Length: 4 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Notes: Director: Christopher Page. 
13.
Pour une fois et pour toute by Cardot
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Renaissance 
Length: 1 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Notes: Director: Christopher Page. 
14.
Descend in ortum meum by Johannes de Lymburgia
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Renaissance 
Length: 3 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Notes: Director: Christopher Page. 
15.
Gloria by Leonel Power
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 15th Century; England 
Length: 3 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Notes: Director: Christopher Page. 
16.
J'ayme bien celui by Pierre Fontaine
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 
Written: 15th Century; France 
Length: 2 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Notes: Director: Christopher Page. 
17.
Exultavit cor in Domino by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
Length: 2 Minutes 4 Secs. 
Notes: Director: Christopher Page. 
18.
En Katerine solennia by Byttering
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 
Written: circa 1410; England 
Length: 2 Minutes 55 Secs. 
Notes: Director: Christopher Page. 

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