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The Earliest Songbook In England / Page, Gothic Voices

Gothic Voices / Page
Release Date: 01/10/2012 
Label:  Helios   Catalog #: 55297  
Composer:  Anonymous
Performer:  Catherine KingStephen CharlesworthCharles DanielsLeigh Nixon
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Number of Discs: 1 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews


How could anyone who loves English vocal music resist a recording with a title such as The Earliest Songbook in England? If that weren't enough enticement, the fact that the music is performed by the Gothic Voices leaves nothing to question except, "Where do I get my hands on a copy?" And when you read Christopher Page's notes on the source of these 23 songs, you discover that indeed, the title is not a gimmick: this really is the earliest songbook in England. Copied on "a few leaves of parchment" (probably around 1200), the pages eventually were used as "flyleaves for another book", an act that most likely saved them from destruction. According to Page, this recording contains almost all of the music
Read more found in that early booklet, which apparently wasn't discovered until 600 years after it was compiled. As is usual in these cases, we don't know who did the copying work nor who the composers were, but the songs are primarily concerned with the subject of Christmas and the festive time immediately following. Some are monophonic, others polyphonic, sometimes fairly elaborate in rhythm and in the part-writing. The singers--in this case alto, four tenors, and baritone, used in various configurations of one, two, and three parts--fully capture the spirit of these songs with clear and very pleasing, well-matched voices. We don't need a text (although full texts are provided) to tell us the joyful, celebratory purpose of many of the selections, and the sound is absolutely perfect, allowing appropriate distance for the voices to bloom and resonate while faithfully preserving the clarity of lines and texts. My only reservation is the placement of the five-minute-long song "In hoc ortus occidente". Although it's beautifully sung by alto Catherine King, its length and meandering melody kill the excitement and momentum set off by the rousing and attention-getting opening song, "Verbum patris umanatur O O". Lovers of early music and fans of the Gothic Voices will have this disc as a matter of course; but I would strongly suggest that others looking for a truly satisfying adventure along one of the more exotic paths through the forest of early music should not miss this either.

--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Verbum patris humanatur by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 
Written: circa 1290; England 
2. In hoc ortus occidente by Anonymous
Performer:  Catherine King (Alto)
Period: Romantic 
3. Regis cuius potentia by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Romantic 
4. Carmina burana: no 3, Ecce torpet probitas by Anonymous
Performer:  Stephen Charlesworth (Baritone)
Period: Medieval 
Written: France 
5. Magno gaudens gaudio by Anonymous
Performer:  Catherine King (Alto)
Period: Romantic 
6. Rerum deus conditor by Anonymous
Performer:  Charles Daniels (Tenor)
Period: Romantic 
7. Cantu miro summa laude by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 
8. Carmina burana: no 108, Vacillantis trutine by Anonymous
Performer:  Leigh Nixon (Tenor)
Period: Medieval 
9. In natali novi regis by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Romantic 
10. Diastematica by Anonymous
Performer:  Catherine King (Alto)
Period: Romantic 
11. Divino maduit by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Romantic 
12. Virgo mater salvatoris by Anonymous
Performer:  Stephen Charlesworth (Baritone)
Period: Romantic 
13. Tronus regis instauratur by Anonymous
Performer:  Charles Daniels (Tenor)
Period: Romantic 
14. Benedicamus Domino by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 
Written: circa 1200 
15. Adulari nesciens by Anonymous
Performer:  Catherine King (Alto)
Period: Romantic 
16. Agnus Dei: Qui pius est factus by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Romantic 
17. Resonet, intonet by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Romantic 
18. Ad honorem salvatoris by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 
Written: 13th Century; Spain 
19. Argumenta faluntur fisice by Anonymous
Performer:  Catherine King (Alto)
Period: Romantic 
20. Flos floriger by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Romantic 
21. Carmina burana: no 8, Licet eger by Anonymous
Performer:  Charles Daniels (Tenor)
Period: Medieval 
Written: 12-13th; France 
22. Ad cantus laetitae by Anonymous
Conductor:  Christopher Page
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gothic Voices
Period: Medieval 

Featured Sound Samples

Verbum patris humanatur (Anonymous)
Magno gaudens gaudio (Anonymous)

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