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Chant Wars / Bagby, Livljanic, Sequentia, Dialogos


Release Date: 10/11/2005 
Label:  Dhm Deutsche Harmonia Mundi Catalog #: 66649   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Anonymous
Conductor:  Benjamin BagbyKatarina Livljanic
Orchestra/Ensemble:  SequentiaEnsemble Dialogos
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The image of monks on steroids may be a bit much for some to entertain, but for listeners used to most modern interpretations of what's usually called "Gregorian chant", these performances of various types of chant from the Middle Ages will definitely seem "pumped-up", although never grotesquely or untastefully so. The singers of early-music groups Sequentia and Dialogos, the former led by Benjamin Bagby, the latter by his wife Katarina Livljanic, aim not only to illustrate the differences among chant traditions at a critical point in the repertoire's history, but also to enliven its usually refined character and re-imagine it as concert-performance music. In other words, these very scholarly-minded yet theatrically Read more savvy performers take out of context what normally are sung as prayers, meditations, processionals, and celebratory expressions in the church liturgy and present them instead as entertainment. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially if you want modern audiences to listen and hear what proves to be a highly varied, colorful, and often very beautiful song repertoire that's so often badly sung, misunderstood, and relegated to stylistic mediocrity.


Of course, the fact is that today we have no idea exactly how these ancient chants were sung (many of them more than 1000 years old), nor can we say with certainty how a particular rhythm was inflected, how a note value was held, or how the Latin text was pronounced. Often notation is incomplete or inconclusive--or nonexistent. Indeed, as true for every group involved with performing early chant, many of the pieces sung here are reconstructions and newly imagined recreations drawn from existing manuscripts or composed based on thorough knowledge of chant forms and styles.


Bagby, Livljanic, and their colleagues are as good and as engaging as any interpreters/imaginers of this repertoire (and better singers than most), and their idea to demonstrate--as well as have fun with--the multifarious chant styles that existed during the time of Charlemagne, and to effectively show how difficult would be the emperor's attempt to resolve the conflicting traditions by unifying them under his authority, is mostly successful and entertaining--although probably more so in these groups' live concert performances. The few extended, solo-voice chants go on longer than most ears will attend, but the singers were wise to keep things moving with different tempos, inflective styles, and type and number of voices from chant to chant.


Most dynamic and impressive are the antiphonal, or "call-and-response" chants such as "Laudate dominum", where the cantor sings the psalm and the choir responds "alleluia", and the program's final selection "Christus vincit", a vibrant, exciting exchange involving powerfully sung declamations and equally strong choral responses, in unison and in harmony. Bagby's harp joins in near the end of the disc, accompanying a moving lament on the death of the Emperor Charlemagne. Overall, the singing is full-voiced and very agreeable in tone and timbre--while also more energetic than we usually hear in liturgical chant. The interpretations also are expertly, imaginatively realized, the lines well-shaped and naturally inflected. The sound on this hybrid SACD takes full advantage of the famed acoustics of the medieval abbey at Fontevraud, France, and the liner notes give this uniquely conceived program a clear, easy-to-digest context. [11/1/2005]
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Gregorius praesul by Anonymous
Conductor:  Benjamin Bagby,  Katarina Livljanic
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sequentia,  Ensemble Dialogos
Period: Medieval 
Date of Recording: 11/2004 
Venue:  Abbey, Fontevraud, France 
Length: 7 Minutes 41 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 
2.
Ad Dominum dum tribulaer by Anonymous
Conductor:  Benjamin Bagby,  Katarina Livljanic
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sequentia,  Ensemble Dialogos
Period: Medieval 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 11/2004 
Venue:  Abbey, Fontevraud, France 
Length: 4 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 
3.
In convertendo Dominus by Anonymous
Conductor:  Benjamin Bagby,  Katarina Livljanic
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sequentia,  Ensemble Dialogos
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Munich, Germany 
Date of Recording: 11/2004 
Venue:  Abbey, Fontevraud, France 
Length: 3 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 
4.
Venite, populi by Anonymous
Conductor:  Benjamin Bagby,  Katarina Livljanic
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sequentia,  Ensemble Dialogos
Period: Medieval 
Date of Recording: 11/2004 
Venue:  Abbey, Fontevraud, France 
Length: 2 Minutes 23 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 
5.
Domine, exaudi by Anonymous
Conductor:  Benjamin Bagby,  Katarina Livljanic
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sequentia,  Ensemble Dialogos
Period: Medieval 
Date of Recording: 11/2004 
Venue:  Abbey, Fontevraud, France 
Length: 5 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 
6.
Natus ante saecula by Anonymous
Conductor:  Benjamin Bagby,  Katarina Livljanic
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sequentia,  Ensemble Dialogos
Period: Medieval 
Date of Recording: 11/2004 
Venue:  Abbey, Fontevraud, France 
Length: 3 Minutes 43 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 
7.
Alleluia: Prosechete laos by Anonymous
Conductor:  Benjamin Bagby,  Katarina Livljanic
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sequentia,  Ensemble Dialogos
Period: Medieval 
Date of Recording: 11/2004 
Venue:  Abbey, Fontevraud, France 
Length: 3 Minutes 43 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 
8.
Saepe expugnaverunt by Anonymous
Conductor:  Benjamin Bagby,  Katarina Livljanic
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sequentia,  Ensemble Dialogos
Date of Recording: 11/2004 
Venue:  Abbey, Fontevraud, France 
Length: 3 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 
9.
Deus enim by Anonymous
Conductor:  Benjamin Bagby,  Katarina Livljanic
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sequentia,  Ensemble Dialogos
Period: Medieval 
Date of Recording: 11/2004 
Venue:  Abbey, Fontevraud, France 
Length: 3 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 
10.
Laudate Dominum Deum nostrum by Anonymous
Conductor:  Benjamin Bagby,  Katarina Livljanic
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sequentia,  Ensemble Dialogos
Period: Medieval 
Date of Recording: 11/2004 
Venue:  Abbey, Fontevraud, France 
Length: 5 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 
11.
A solis ortu by Anonymous
Conductor:  Benjamin Bagby,  Katarina Livljanic
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sequentia,  Ensemble Dialogos
Period: Medieval 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 11/2004 
Venue:  Abbey, Fontevraud, France 
Length: 9 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 
12.
Collegerunt pontifices by Anonymous
Conductor:  Benjamin Bagby,  Katarina Livljanic
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sequentia,  Ensemble Dialogos
Period: Medieval 
Date of Recording: 11/2004 
Venue:  Abbey, Fontevraud, France 
Length: 5 Minutes 20 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 
13.
Christus vincit by Anonymous
Conductor:  Benjamin Bagby,  Katarina Livljanic
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sequentia,  Ensemble Dialogos
Date of Recording: 11/2004 
Venue:  Abbey, Fontevraud, France 
Length: 10 Minutes 23 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 

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