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Machaut: La Messe De Nostre Dame; Songs from Le Voir Dit

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Audio CD, December 17, 1996
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Product Details

  • Performer: Oxford Camerata
  • Conductor: Jeremy Summerly
  • Composer: Guillaume de Machaut
  • Audio CD (December 17, 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B0000014AN
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,439 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
"La Messe de Notre Dame" by Guillaume de Machaut is one of the earliest settings of the Mass by a single composer.The Oxford Camerata,in the Reims cathedral,so the would match the same accoustics as those that must of been heard when the work was first premiered in 1364. the rest of the songs are from "Le voir dit" The liner notes of this recording tell how it was possible to match with great fidelity the accoustics of the Reims Cathedral.This is one of my favorites recordings in my private collection. Questions and comments are greatly appreciated.
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The Mass by Machaut is the earliest complete setting of the Mass text that we have. It was composed for performance in a specific church (in which this recording is made) for a specific occasion and has performance connections to the composer and his family. The performance is excellent and the recording quite clear, especially the mass, using the acoustic of a large stone church.
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Format: Audio CD
This is probably as early as most people go with "early music", being composed around 1365 and the first setting of the Ordinary of the Mass attributable to one composer - who was also a poet much admired by Chaucer.

The performance style here is my antidote to the controversial practice adopted by Marcel Pérès and the Ensemble Organum (see my review) which employs an incongruous singing style derived from Corsican tradition with much groaning, sliding and ornamentation. Some enjoy that iconoclastic approach but I prefer to hear the music as it is done here by a small, professional choir who are never too monochrome or precious and happy to inject the occasional little turn in the line as indicated by the "plicas" which appear in 14C music and for the last time in Machaut's manuscript. There are four parts rather than the conventional three, a contratenor moving around the same tessitura as the tenor. The singing, led by Robin Blaze's mellifluous countertenor, is usually smooth and harmonious but sometimes agreeably tangy and just a little harsh when they want to avoid sounding too comfortable and emphasise those surprising harmonic twists and excursions into the minor. The acoustic of Reims Cathedral is perfect: clear yet spacious with enough reverberance to suggest vertical space.

The second half of the recital consists of songs from "Le Voir Dit" and has the more intimate acoustic deriving from a studio recording, as befits these passionate outpourings from the courtly tradition charting the course of a December-May romance between the poet-composer and a young admirer.

Thus this disc provides a window on an age devoid of self-conscious preciousness in that erotic love and devotion to God could be expressed with equal fervour and sincerity.

Full texts and translations are provided.
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