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Jerusalem - Vision Of Peace /Christopher Page, Gothic Voices


Release Date: 11/10/1998 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67039   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  AnonymousGuiot de DijonHuon de Saint-QuentinHildegard of Bingen
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 13 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A treasure of the back catalogue.

Why am I reviewing a recording made and released more than a decade ago? Firstly, because it predated Musicweb International, so we have never reviewed it. Secondly, because it recently appeared on Hyperion’s ‘please buy me’ list, indicating that sales had been very slack. Thirdly, because, as regular readers will be aware, I rate all the recordings made by Gothic Voices very highly indeed, present CD included, so that neglect of any of their recordings is deeply regrettable.

The music on the present CD, most of it anonymous and from Northern France during the time of the Crusades, relates to the medieval belief that the name Jerusalem meant ‘city of piece’ from the
Read more Semitic root s-l-m. Though this etymology is no longer widely accepted, it had great significance for medieval Christianity, where the responsory rogate quae ad pacem sunt Hierusalem et abundantia diligentibus te (pray for the peace of Jersusalem; they shall prosper that love thee, Ps. 121 [122]) was almost synonymous with praying for the peace of Christendom.

For the modern listener the appeal lies in the sheer beauty of all the music here. If you listen for no other reason than to round off a hectic day at work, that’s fine. I hope, though, that even if you start with that motive you’ll come to appreciate the music and performances at a deeper level, too. Some of the pieces are in plainchant and the other settings are equally soothing - but not, I should add, in any sense boring.

Only two of the pieces can be assigned to named composers and two of those are obscure - we don’t even know a floruit date for Huon de St Quentin. Don’t let that put you off in the slightest: all the music here is more than amenable to the modern ear and the closing piece by Abbess Hildegard well up to the high standard of her music to which Gothic Voices introduced us with their seminal recording A Feather on the Breath of God (CDA66039). Where they led others have followed, but their interpretations of Hildegard’s music remain special and the present recording of O Jerusalem (tr.15) is no exception. It’s especially effective immediately after the plainchant psalm Deus, qui venerunt (tr.13) and the plain setting of Congaudent hodie (tr.14). Where some other performers add instrumental accompaniment to Hildegard’s music and other music of the period, Christopher Page believes the practice to be inauthentic. Catherine King’s beautiful solo, unaccompanied rendition of O Jerusalem here certainly provides strong support for Page’s practice. Hildegard puts all the variety into her settings, without any need of instrumental support. The only accompaniment on the CD comes from the tolling bell in the background of Te Deum (tr.4)

That all the performances are excellent goes almost without saying, as does the fact that the recording throughout is first class. Christopher Page’s notes are, as usual with Hyperion, lavish, scholarly and approachable, as befits one who bestrides the twin worlds of music and literature. One small discrepancy concerns the description of Catherine King as ‘alto’ in the CD booklet and insert and as ‘soprano’ on the Hyperion website.

Another Gothic Voices recording, recently, and equally surprisingly putting in an appearance on Hyperion’s endangered list, A Song for Francesca: Music in Italy, 1330-1430, is also highly recommendable (GAW21286), especially as it won the Gramophone Early Music Award. Neither will remain available at Hyperion’s give-away price of £5.60 by the time that you read this review - my buying them removed them from the list - but they are well worth buying even at the normal price. I had long meant to obtain them both but never got round to it; don’t make the same mistake.

Let me also take this opportunity to sing the praises of some of Gothic Voices recordings being reissued by Hyperion in their budget-price Helios series. Of the five CDs which they made with the generic title The Voices of England and France, Volumes 1-3 have already been reissued - see reviews of Volume 1 and Volume 2 - and the other two must surely follow soon. You’ll find a review of Volume 3 (CDH55283, concentrating on the music of Binchois and his contemporaries) in my October 2009 Download Roundup. You’ll hardly be surprised to find that, if I recommend Vision of Peace and Song for Francesca so strongly at full price, I’m even more enthusiastic about these and other Helios reissues. Meanwhile, don’t let any of their earlier treasures of the back catalogue ever again languish unwanted.

-- Brian Wilson, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. Luto carens et latere by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 
2. Jherusalem, grant damage me fais by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 
Written: 13th Century; France 
3. Jerusalem accipitur by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 
4. Te Deum laudamus by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 
5. O levis aurula! by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 
6. Hac in die Gedeonis by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 
7. Chanterai por mon corage by Guiot de Dijon
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 
Written: 13th Century; France 
8. Haec dies quam fecit by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 
9. Pascha nostrum by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 
10. Veri vitis germine by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 
11. Jerusalem se plaint by Huon de Saint-Quentin
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 
12. Luget Rachel iterum by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 
13. Deus, qui venerunt by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 
14. Congaudet hodie by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 
15. O Jerusalem aure civitas by Hildegard of Bingen
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 
Written: 12th Century; Germany 
16. Gospel by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 
17. In salvatoris/Ce fu en tres douz tens/In veritate by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 

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