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Early Music

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 22, 1995
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$14.05
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 22, 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B000001436
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #314,450 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
A recording of psalms sung in French is probably not most people's idea of instant excitement. This record surprises, first, by being memorable and refreshing.
Part of the fact that this record is surprisingly entertaining must go to the credit of the composers of the Genevan psalter themselves. The tunes themselves are simple, like folksongs, and just as memorable. Several arrangements of the same psalm are frequently performed in sequence here: the first, with the bare, monodic melody; a simple four part arrangement, and a more flowery and contrapuntal early baroque arrangement.
Another part of the interest held by this record is that the texts of the versified psalms are quite good. Some were written by the famous poet Clement Marot, and others by Theodore Bezy. They are not the best work of either author, but they do not contain some of the forced lines that made the comparable work out of the English Reformation, the Sternhold-Hopkins metrical psalter, never quite catch on. A full lyric sheet would have been nice, though.
When a hymn tune is identified by names such as 'Old 100,' the reference was to the tunes out of the Genevan psalter. These tunes live on in familiar hymns and doxologies still sung round the world. Despite what you might think, this is a quite lively record.
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Format: Audio CD
Recordings of Genevan tunes are rare. GOOD recordings of Genevan tunes are VERY rare. So I'm pleased to inform you that you have discovered something very rare - this is an excellent recording of Genevan tunes!
This CD features the original Genevan tunes originating from the French Reformation, first composed under the influence of the psalm singing Reformer John Calvin in Geneva.
The Goudimel Ensemble sings the melodies accurately, with beautiful harmonies faithful to the time of the Reformation.
The only drawback of this CD for most listeners is that the lyrics are French. However, this is arguably a feature of this CD, attesting to the producer's desire to be faithful to the time of the Reformation by singing the psalms in the language in which they were composed.
There is an air of timelessness about this music - listeners will have the sense that what they are hearing is probably identical to what the French believers in Geneva were listening to nearly five centuries ago.
Highly recommended for historic psalm lovers! At this budget price, you can not pass this up!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Well-produced CD which captures the Christian psalmody of the French Reformation. One or two selections are probably overly elaborate and probably represent later transcriptions of the basic psalms. At any rate, beautiful!
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...but not very artful, these 19 settings of the Psalms in French translation were plainly intended fro congregational singing, and since the congregations were Calvinist, the settings are plain indeed, strictly strophic, note-for-note syllabic harmonizations, with just a few cadential melismata (decorations of a syllable with extended runs of notes). If you grew up Protestant, you will recognize the genre, and if you have sung New England shape-note music, you'll be surprised at the resemblance.

Seventeen of the Psalms were set by Claude Goudimel, who was slaughtered in the St. Batholomew Day Massacre in Paris in August, 1572, an act of religious cleansing that may have been instigated by the Queen Mother but that was plotted and executed by common Catholic Parisians, neighbor against neighbor. Goudimel's fault was that he had accepted the Calvinist Huguenot faith. Before we get too judgmental, however, it's best to remember that Jean Calvin himself supervised the torture and burning alive of scientist Michael Servetus, whose fault was that he was a unitarian. The St. Bartholomew Massacre was the worst act of inter-faith rioting in its era, with at least 5000 dead, but it pales in comparison to the centuries-earlier slaughter of the Cathars in Languedoc. One might want to remember such events in the current climate of religious extremism in the USA.

It's interesting to compare these Protestant hymns, with their mood of pious contrition, with the troped Gregorian chants of medieval Catholicism, with their affect of rapture and mystery. The former ring out the appeal of the individual for redemption, the latter acclaim the glory of God. Really, both offer some intense emotion despite their rudimentary musical structures. If I were searching for a personal faith to adhere to, I'm fairly sure which I'd choose.
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