The list author says: "The great composers of the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance are my favorite composers, next to Bach, Mozart, Handel, and Beethoven. This music quiets the soul. It is both meditative, and profoundly moving. I recall a particularly difficult time in my life when it was the only music that I could listen to, the only music that gave me comfort and peace.
Unfortunately, some of my favorite recordings are now "currently unavailable." Most notably-- 1) "Introitus": a wonderful compilation of highlights from early Hilliard Ensemble recordings on EMI, which includes some of the most essential shorter masterpieces of the Renaissance. ("Spiritus" is another fine Hilliard compilation on EMI.) 2) Heinrich Isaac: "Sacred and Secular Works," performed by the Hilliard Ensemble with instrumental accompaniment by the Kees Boeke Consort on EMI Reflexe. This is my all-time favorite Isaac recording (to purchase go to Amazon.de and type in Reflexe Vol. 10). 3) "Guillaume Dufay and His Times": a 2 CD set performed by Kees Otten and Syntagma Musicum on Teldec, with some beautiful singing from a young Rene Jacobs. 4) La Reverdie: "Voyage en Italie"--secular songs by Dufay, which I play a lot. 5) Dufay: "Missa L'Homme arme and Motets," including the beautiful "Nuper Rosarum Flores"--written for the opening of Brunelleschi's Duomo in Florence, and composed according to the proportions used in the building's design--performed here by the Hilliard Ensemble on EMI Reflexe--a treasure. 6) "Spain and the New World: Renaissance music from Aragon and Mexico," performed by the Hilliard Ensemble, on Virgin Veritas. 7) William Byrd: Masses, performed by the Hilliard Ensemble on EMI. All other performances of Byrd masses have been a disappointment since hearing this one. 8) William Bryd: "Consort Music and Songs," performed by Gerard Lesne and Ensemble Orlando Gibbons on Virgin Veritas. This disc includes the moving song "Ye Sacred Muses," written upon the death of Byrd's teacher Thomas Tallis."
"This disc includes some of the most massive and complex vocal works ever composed, including the magnificent 40-part Motet "Spem in Alium," by Thomas Tallis. The expression "walls of sound" applies here, except that they are great cathedral walls. For those who don't know "Spem in Alium," it is one of the most beautiful and ethereal pieces in the history of music. Very highly recommended."
"I am a huge fan of Jordi Savall and his various groups, and this is one of my favorite recordings by him. The music in this 2 CD set derives from a rare 15th century document that includes works by Dufay and Ockeghem. (Savall drew upon this collection for his film score to the movie, Jeanne La Pucelle.) Highly recommended--a treasure."
"Another one of my favorite Savall/ Montserrat Figueras recordings. This SACD includes some of the most unusual, and other worldly music that I have ever heard. It is one of three volumes of "Songs of the Sibyl"--music that serves as prophetic warnings about the end of time."
"A superb collection of music by Allegri, Gesauldo, Desprez, Lassus, Guerrero, etc., performed by the excellent choir Magnificat under the direction of Philip Cave. Don't bother looking for Volume 2, as Linn inexplicably pulled the plug on this project."
"This is my favorite collection of Tallis Scholar highlights, of which there are several. Included is their famous recording of Allegri's Miserere, and Sheppard's Media Vita--which Tallis singer, Tessa Bonner, once described as music she wished to be played at her funeral (EDIT: I have just heard of the untimely death of this wonderful artist, and am deeply saddened by the news--what a great loss.)"
"Another fine compilation of vocal and instrumental Renaissance works. For me, the great highlight of this disc is a performance by Bruno Turner and Pro Cantione Antiqua of Dufay's hauntingly beautiful motet "Flos Florum," which is here given the finest performance that I have ever heard."
"This release was available in both CD and SACD formats (this is the Hybrid SACD release--which sounds better even on a regular CD player), and contains one of the finest performances of Tallis's 40-part Motet "Spem in Alium" in the current catalogue. Also included is a performance of the Tallis "Miserere" that is a revelation. Highly recommended."
"This was the first recording that I ever heard of "Spem in Alium," and it still remains one of my favorites. David Wulstan was a pioneer in this music, both as a performer and a scholar, and the Clerks of Oxenford produce an unusually ethereal sound that is perfect for this music."
"This is volume 1 (of 2) of Andrew Parrott's survey of Latin Church Music by Thomas Tallis, performed here by the Taverner Choir. Both volumes are also available together at a lower cost on Virgin Veritas. While I have some reservations about this set as a whole, Parrott's performance of Spem in Alium is one of the finest I have ever heard."
"One of my favorite Hilliard recordings, chiefly because it includes the most amazing performance that I have ever heard of Dunstable's mystical motet, "Veni Sancte Spiritus." The Orlando Consort is also excellent in this work, but I definitely prefer the Hilliards here. Dunstable's music was very influential on the European continent."
"I am virtually certain that this superb CD has been reissued at a discount price, but I don't seem to be able to locate it here. Nevertheless, it contains some very exotic and interesting music, and is one of the finest recordings that the Orlando Consort has made to date."
"Perotin was a 12th century French composer associated with the School of Notre Dame Cathedral. This is some of the most other worldly music you will ever hear, in great performances by the Hilliard Ensemble."
"More great performances by the Hilliard Ensemble of some very remarkable music. It is a pity these are now out of print and so expensive. (Edit: The original EMI Reflexe release of this cd has been reissued by Archiv Music at a more reasonable price.)"
"Judging from the astonishing quality of Antonie Brumel's Missa 'Et ecce terrae motus," he must be one of the greatest composers that ever lived. There is also an fine recording by the Tallis Scholars, but I prefer the Hueglas Ensemble here. Highly recommended. EDIT: The original 1991 Sony issue is listed at a more reasonable price. It also comes in their "Secret Labyrinth" bargain box set."
"It's also a pity that this great disc of Josquin Desprez Motets by the Orlando Consort is now out of print, as it contains some of the most beautiful performances in my entire collection. The counter tenor singing is among the best I've ever heard. My highest recommendation. Edit: Amazon UK often has it at a lower cost & there's now a reissue on Brilliant (though the UK import has better sound)."
"Fortunately, there is also this exceptionally fine recording of Josquin Motets by the Hilliard Ensemble. Like the Orlando recording above, this disc also includes the profoundly moving motet, "La deploration de Johannes Ockeghem," written to commemorate the death of Josquin's teacher, Ockeghem. Very highly recommended."
"Edit: this has recently become one of my all-time favorite Josquin recordings. With the young Italian ensemble, De Labyrintho, directed by Walter Testolin, performing Josquin's Missa Gaudeamus, and various Motets. If I could only take two Josquin recordings with me to my desert island, it would be this one, and the Orlando Consort singing the Motets. Sublime."
"This wonderful disc includes some remarkable motets by the vastly underrated composer, Jean Mouton, as well as a beautiful mass by Josquin, performed by Paul Hillier and Theatre of Voices. (It is also available in a 2 cd set at a lower cost, along with some Lassus music.) Highly recommended."
"Lassus has been called the "Shakespeare" of music, and he is an extraordinary composer. His Penitential Psalms challenge me in a way that I find hard to put into words--they seem so perfect. Unlike other recordings, the Hilliards add instrumentation to the Psalms, played here by the Kees Boeke Consort. This would be very highly recommended, if it weren't for the ridiculously high price of $215."
"With the Hilliard recording priced so high, these recordings by the now defunct "Henry's Eight" make an excellent alternative, as they were a very gifted group of singers. But I do miss the instrumentation on the Hilliard recording."
"Some remarkably beautiful music from a great, but little known composer, Phillipe Rogier, performed here by Magnificat, led by Philip Cave. This is a very rare and special CD, and when it goes out of print, if it hasn't already, it will become exceedingly difficult to find, I expect."
"While the more recent recording by The Clerk's Group of Ockeghem's Requiem is excellent, I still prefer this older Hilliard Ensemble recording, which also includes the beautiful Missa Mi-Mi. However, if you want to explore Ockheghem's music further, Wickham's award winning survey is excellent. (Edit: this recording was newly reissued in a 2-CD discount set on May 18, 2010 for around $10.)"
"I have adored Anthony Rooley and The Consort of Musicke since I first bought their recordings on LP, and this brilliant set features some amazing singing from a young Emma Kirkby and others. Among my favorite Dowland works is "The Pilgrim's Solace." Highly recommended."
"A single disc selection from Davitt Moroney's remarkable complete survey of William Byrd's keyboard works. If you think that there was no great keyboard music written before the time of Bach, have a listen to this."
"Du Caurroy is a seriously underrated composer, and this performance of his beautiful Requiem, written for the French Henry IV, is superb. The only slight drawback is that about half way through the music stops in order for a eulogy to be spoken for the dead king in old French, which you might want to program out (I do). Otherwise, it's great music, and well performed by Doulce Memoire."
"Du Caurroy's rarely recorded instrumental "Fantasies" are here given excellent performances by Jordi Savall and Hesperion XX. However, there is a Harnoncourt recording of one or two of these pieces dating back to the late 1960s that is even better, but hard to find. Nevertheless, these are some of the most profound instrumental works of the period, and strongly recommended."
"Another valuable addition to the pitifully scant discography of Eustache Du Caurroy, by Doulce Memoire. Let us hope that this wonderful group continues to give us more of Caurroy's music. Highly recommended. (UPDATE: the above recording of the Requiem is now available in a two cd set from Naive, coupled with Les Meslanges.)"
"After many years, this is still one of my favorite recordings by the Tallis Scholars, and is a definite "desert island" disc in my collection. Their performance of Allegri's Miserere here is also included in the "Essential Tallis" set above, but the Mundy and Palestrina performances are not, and they are equally remarkable. Very highly recommended."
"The early music movement in England began with David Munrow, and his Early Music Consort of London. And even after many years, Munrow's recording of Dufay's mass "Se la Face ay Pale' remains my favorite version."
"Of Munrow's many compilation sets, this one remains a personal favorite. (Edit: Please note that this set was newly reissued on May 18th, 2010 at a considerable discount--for around $10--by Virgin Veritas. It is listed under the same title--"The Art of the Netherlands.")"
"This extensive set of Complete Secular Music by Guillaume Dufay may be too much of a good thing for some listeners, but it is a very valuable additon to Dufay discography, and essential for lovers of this great composer."
"Ah, I found the new discount release of "Dreams in the Pleasure Garden" spoken about above. However, it is now simply entitled: "Machaut; Chansons." At this price it is a real bargain--one of the better collections of Medieval songs in the catalogue."