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Machaut: Songs From Le Voir Dit / Orlando Consort


Release Date: 10/08/2013 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67727   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Guillaume de Machaut
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando Consort
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 4 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



MACHAUT SONGS FROM LE VOIR DIT Orlando Consort HYPERION 67727 (64:27 Text and Translation)


This isn’t a standard program of Machaut, with the immediately memorable thematic material (“Douce dame jolie”) and pronounced rhythmic impetus (“Rose, liz, printemps, verdure”) of his earlier works. What we have here are nine songs drawn from the last of his dits , first-person narrative poetry of considerable length that was very Read more fashionable at the time—a game of truth and fiction, often cloaked in allegory, with inserted poetry and songs. The Livre dou voir dit (Book of the True Tale) was written in the late 1360s, at which point Machaut was in his 60s. Which isn’t to say that there is little beauty in the passionate Se pour ce muir , nor a lack of virtuosic brilliance in Quant Theseus/Ne quier venir. (The latter was the result of a private contest with a colleague, Thomas Paien, who wrote the text and music to the first song but lost to Machaut, who beat him out for imagery in the text of his response and musically by combining that response with Paien’s original.) The delights are there, just not as obviously so.


The Orlando Consort is hardly unfamiliar with this music. It issued an earlier CD of Machaut’s songs more than a decade ago (currently on Archiv 993102), and continued to draw from the composer over the years in various collections. Ne que on porroit , for example, is on this disc, but was also part of an extraordinarily conceived release entitled Food, Wine & Song (sadly deleted, though still available through secondhand distributors) that featured both music and recipes from early Renaissance England, France, Italy, Burgundy, Spain, and the German States. The two performances are distinct: identical in approach, but countertenor Robert Harre-Jones on the earlier album possessed a richer timbre, while his replacement, Matthew Venner, has superior enunciation. Differences in engineering might be responsible to an extent as well.


The centerpiece of this program is the complex lai, Longuement me sui tenus . Clocking in here at just over 21 minutes, it is by far the longest piece on the disc, and receives a truly virtuosic performance by Angus Smith—who must have felt as though he’d run a marathon after singing it, if indeed it was recorded in a single session. (It is presented unaccompanied, per the latest research.) Without resorting to any anachronistic expressive devices, he makes much of the emotional content of what he sings through discreet changes to tempo, enunciation, phrasing, and a warm, focused vibrato that blooms naturally, repeatedly, in the upper reaches of the piece.


Machaut’s songs are not as poorly served on disc as those of many of his contemporaries, but the Orlando Consort’s latest is exceptional in all respects. While I wouldn’t recommend it as a first choice because of the repertoire, it isn’t surpassed for performance by anything else out there, not even Ensemble Gilles Binchois or Gothic Voices. Strongly recommended.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sanc cuer, dolens by Guillaume de Machaut
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando Consort
Period: Medieval 
Written: 14th Century; France 
2.
Quant Theseus/Ne quier veoir by Guillaume de Machaut
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando Consort
Period: Medieval 
Written: 14th Century; France 
3.
Puis qu'en oubli by Guillaume de Machaut
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando Consort
Period: Medieval 
Written: 14th Century; France 
4.
Plourés dames by Guillaume de Machaut
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando Consort
Period: Medieval 
Written: 14th Century; France 
5.
Nes que on porroit by Guillaume de Machaut
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando Consort
Period: Medieval 
Written: 14th Century; France 
6.
Longuement me sui tenus "Lai de bonne esperance" by Guillaume de Machaut
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando Consort
Period: Medieval 
Written: 14th Century; France 
7.
Dix et sept, cinq by Guillaume de Machaut
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando Consort
Period: Medieval 
Written: 14th Century; France 
8.
Dame, se vous n'avez aperceü by Guillaume de Machaut
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando Consort
Period: Medieval 
Written: 14th Century; France 
9.
Se pour ce muir by Guillaume de Machaut
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orlando Consort
Period: Medieval 
Written: 14th Century; Finland 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Intimate Music, Intimate Performances August 4, 2014 By Ralph Graves (Hood, VA) See All My Reviews "Machaut’s poem "Le Voir Dit," written when he was in his sixties, recounts a love affair between himself and a young girl. Machaut included several pieces of music to help illustrate the text – a true multimedia medieval work of art. This is spare, yet intimate music. Machaut was acknowledged to be one of the greatest poets and composers of his age – and that dual mastery is apparent. The 20-minute "Le Lay De Bon Esperance," for example, is set for solo voice. Yet the text and music so perfectly match that the emotion of the poem is communicated even when the listener (such as myself) understands not a word. The polyphonic songs, such as Se Pour Ce Muir, are textbook examples of ars nova. Machaut uses isorhythms to develop each line independently. And yet all the voices work together, making the sound an organic whole that is as stark and beautiful as the Gothic architecture that inspired it. The Orlando Consort is recorded with microphones closely placed. It’s a very clean record with virtually no ambiance. And in this case, that’s a good thing. Unlike Machaut’s religious works, meant to be sung in the resonant spaces of cathedrals, these songs are private messages to the reader of "Le Voir Dit." Which is how the Orlando Consort performs them." Report Abuse
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