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Leonin, Perotin: Sacred Music from Notre-Dame Cathedral

4.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 19, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Beata Viscera
  2. Viderunt Omnes
  3. Viderunt Omnes
  4. (Plainchant) ... Fines Terre Salutare Dei ...
  5. (2-Part Organum) ... Notum Fecit ...
  6. ... Dominus ...
  7. ... Salutare Suum Ante Conspectum ...
  8. (Plainchant) ... Justitiam Suam
  9. (2-Part Organum) ...Viderunt Omnes ...
  10. (Plainchant) ... Fines Terre Salutare Dei ...
  11. (2-Part Organum) ... Notum Fecit ...
  12. ... Dominus ...
  13. (Plainchant) ... Justitiam Suam
  14. (2-Part Organum) ...Viderunt Omnes ...
  15. (Plainchant) ... Fines Terre Salutare Dei ...
  16. (2-Part Clausula): ... Dominus ...
  17. (2-Part Clausula): ... Dominus ...
  18. (2-Part Clausula): ... Dominus ...
  19. (2-Part Clausula): ... Dominus ...
  20. (2-Part Clausula): ... Dominus ...
  21. (2-Part Clausula): ... Dominus ...
  22. (2-Part Motet): Factum Est Salutare/
  23. (4-Part Organum): Viderunt Omnes ...
  24. (Plainchant) ... Fines Terre Salutare Dei ...
  25. (4-Part Organum): Notum Fecit ...
  26. ... Dominus ...
  27. .... Salutare Suum Ante Conspectum ...
  28. (Plainchant) ... Justitiam Suam
  29. (Plainchant): Viderunt Omnes ...
  30. (Organum After 9th-Century Scolica Enchiriadis)...
  31. (4-Part Organum): Sederunt Principes
  32. (4-Part Conductus): Vetus Abit Littera


Product Details

  • Performer: Tonus Peregrinus
  • Composer: Leonin, Perotin
  • Audio CD (July 19, 2005)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B0009SQC8W
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,936 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Recorded and edited in 24 bit resolution, this Naxos recording is a joy to the ears. The performing voices are solid and the direction of Antony Pitts has a sometimes dramatic, majestic, tempo. The only reason I did not concede full 5 stars is because in the Middle Ages female voices for Lithurgy were almost unknown, and in this record there are two sopranos and an Alto. If you enjoy Early Music you will need this record, if you are a beginner this is an intelligent way to introduce you to Polyphony, a cornerstone of Western music.
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I don't know if the strict early music folks would approve of these interpretations--the women's voices, the significantly slower tempos, the overall "prettier" effect than that of some of the purist renditions--but the recording itself, including at times the sounds of rain captured outside the building, is admirable. It lacks some of the fat sound associated with ECM recordings (I am convinced ECM uses significant compression in their issues.) but neither is it thin as many of the Naxos efforts. The performances themselves are engaged and engaging. Its in my regular listening cycle.
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If one read the album notes but failed to read the fine print on the rear of the jacket, one would likely assume that this recording was made in Notre Dame Cathedral, which it was not. It was recorded at Chancelade Abbey, Dordogne, France. ([...])

The notes mention the fact that both Leonin and Perotin worked at Notre Dame and were both responsible for the Organum. Organum is Polyphony used in liturgical music from the late 9th century to c. 1250.

I bring this up because few people, even musicologists, understand the vital roles that acoustics and harmonics(overtones)played in the composition of sacred music until about the Seventeenth Century.

The musicologist, Thurston Dart, summarizes the influence that reverberation has on composers:

"But even a superficial study shows that early composers were very aware of the effect on their music of the surroundings in which it was to be performed, and that they deliberately shaped their music accordingly. Musical acoustics can be roughly divided into resonant, room and outdoor. Plainsong is resonant music; so is the harmonic style of Leonin and Perotin .. Perotin's music, in fact, is perfectly adapted to the acoustics of the highly resonant cathedral (Notre Dame Paris) for which it was written...."

(Thurston Dart, musicologist, "The interpretation of Music",Hutchinson, London pp56-57 (1954).

I think, like most 'moderns', Mr. Dart has got it backwards -- these composers were mostly aware of the effect of the surroundings upon their music.
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Format: Audio CD
There is a very interesting and pedagogical concept behind this program, masterminded by scholar, composer and conductor Antony Pitts: to picture the birth of polyphony and how it lead to the great polyphonic chants of Léonin, Pérotin and other anonymous composers contained in the Magnus Liber Organi – the Great Book of Organums or polyphonic chants from the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, originally compiled apparently by Léonin and then completed and edited by Perotin in the late 12th-early 13th century. Pitts contends – I don’t know how much of it is accepted musicology or his own theory - that polyphony was born of the monophony of Gregorian plainchant, and he gives one such example, the “Viderunt omnes”, the chant for Christmas Day (track 2) which forms the basis of Léonin’s and Pérotin’s polyphonic settings of it. The program also opens with a monophonic chant of Pérotin, “Beata viscera” (a monophonic "conductus" or "conductus simplex", because developing an original melody rather than based, as the organums, on a pre-existing plainchant melody, although Pitt calls it only a "freely-composed melody"). Track 30 also offers a fascinating illustration of “parallel organum” or how to construct polyphony out of plainchant by duplicating the line at an interval above or/and below, based on the ninth-century treatise Scolica enchiriadis. Assembled in a continuous Psalm setting (Psalm 113b of the Latin Vulgate = Psalm 115 of the King James Version) the result is not scholarly at all but strangely hypnotizing.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
Not only do I love the music, but the pieces all have a curious, small and beautiful eerie echo, which seems to typify the genre of music from this period.

The rendering of these compositions is exquisitely, even creatively approached. Listening to it, the echo effect kind of gives it a gilded sheen or aura. It manages to accomplish really giving you a feeling of this period in time.
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