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Machaut: Messe de Notre Dame Import

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Audio CD, Import, January 10, 1997
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Product Details

  • Performer: Jerome Casalonga, Antoine Sicot, Jean-Etienne Langianni, Malcolm Bothwell
  • Orchestra: Ensemble Organum
  • Conductor: Marcel Peres
  • Composer: Guillaume de Machaut
  • Audio CD (January 10, 1997)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Harmonia Mundi
  • ASIN: B0000007AY
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #176,957 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Guillaume de Machaut: Introit: Suscepimus Deus misericordiam tuam
2. Guillaume de Machaut: Kyrie
3. Guillaume de Machaut: Gloria
4. Guillaume de Machaut: Graduel: Suscepimus Deus misericordiam tuam
5. Guillaume de Machaut: Alleluia: Adorabo ad templum sanctum
6. Guillaume de Machaut: Credo
7. Guillaume de Machaut: Offertorium: Diffusa est gratia in labiis tuis
8. Guillaume de Machaut: Preface: Vere dignum et justum est
9. Guillaume de Machaut: Sanctus
10. Guillaume de Machaut: Agnus Dei
11. Guillaume de Machaut: Communion: Responsum accepit Symeon
12. Guillaume de Machaut: Ite Missa est - Deo gratias

Editorial Reviews

Although Machaut's oft-recorded Mass is probably the best known work of medieval music, Marcel Pérès and his Ensemble Organum make you literally hear it for the first time. For starters, the movements are performed in a liturgical context, with appropriate plainsong insertions. The vocal lines, in turn, are ornamented with boisterous scoops, Bob Dylan-like slides, and decorations that will sound strange to modern ears. Yet the ornaments illuminate the work's celebratory aspects, and brings Machaut's quirky imagination into firmer focus than more conservative recordings. Pérès is to Machaut as Schnabel was to Beethoven. --Jed Distler

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Forbes on April 5, 2004
Format: Audio CD
The Early Music field is full of schisms. What once seemed like a monolithic movement, dedicated to challenging the hegemony of 18th and 19th century classical music in the concert hall has turned into a vigorous section of the musical market in its own right. And, as a field that is equal parts musician driven and musicological, it is inevitable that there should develop schisms around points of interpretation. This particularly CD is the product of the very well-researched theories of Marcel Peres. Peres, taking his cues from the historical record, has created a performance of Machaut's historically important and very beautiful Mass and restored the art of ornamentation, microtonal inflection, just intonation, and rhythmic flexibility that reflects at least one of the dominant vocal styles prevalent in 14th century church music. The results have been controversial ever since the release of this CD in 1996.
Machaut's Mass is perhaps the most famous product of the late Middle Ages. It is the first complete setting of the Ordinary of the Mass ever produced by one composer. What is not clear is whether the work was just a collection of separate Mass movements that Machaut assembled for an occasion, or if they were originally intended to be performed together. Machaut uses a wide variety of polyphonic techniques in this work, from long melismatic textures to almost chordal writing. He ingeniously varied his given material, Gregorian chant which is placed in the lowest voice. Machaut shows a new concern for the combination of vocal textures that was not present in the works of earlier polyphonic composers. In a deeply felt performance, this work never fails to sound ancient, and surprisingly fresh, no matter what the approach taken by the ensemble.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Abell on June 29, 2004
Format: Audio CD
First off, this version of Machaut's mass is the sort of daring interpretation that is likely to spark controversy. The way Peres and the Ensemble Organum add ornamentation, slide in and out of notes, and sing with an agressive, non-vibrato style, will be strong drink to those who think this music should be sung with modern style vocal technique. But I found this disc a revelation, connecting Machaut's work to Middle Eastern styles, Eastern European chant and religious music, as well as to the raucous mode of singing used by Shape-note singers in the US. In the words of Charles Ives' father, "You won't get a wild ride to heaven on pretty little sounds." This performance is just such a wild ride, and it's heavenly. There are plenty of "nice" versions of this music available, but this version really rocks.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Justin Weaver on May 14, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Let me start with the bad and move quickly to the good. Ok, so if you've had the good fortune of meeting this terrific mass before in another recording, you probably will find this recording completely off-the-wall, even if you can convince your conscious mind to accept it as 'authentic'. Microtonal inflections, forced nasality, voice-breaks, trills, etc are heaped onto the skeleton of Machaut's masterpiece, following the most up-to-date scholarship on 14th century practice. You might also complain that the gorgeous polyphony is broken up by plainchaint liturgy -- something you may not be buying this CD for...
But (moving to the positives), in spite of and indeed BECAUSE of (much of) this, I find this CD one of the most compelling in my entire collection of music from any period. It strikes me as immensely exotic and fresh and therefore relevent in the's the sort of music that hits you in the face with the incredible change in Western aesthetics that accompanies the march of centuries and renders our contemporary ears ill-suited to immediately grasp the world of the 14th century polyphonic mass.
The Kyrie is downright creepy-- just try listening to it on high volume in a pitch-black room sometime! -- there are moments where consonance and dissonance seem to pull in all directions at once through the slippery intertwining lines whose extensive ornamentation render them bone-chillingly 'antique' (like tombstones in an old cemetery are 'antique')... the piece has the austerity of a Gothic cathedral at midnight... but then there are moments of radiant sunlight too, passing 'dissonances' (future tertian consonances) that seem almost moments of clarity.
I will confess, I'd rather skip the liturgy and have the polyphony stand by itself as an art piece but acknowledge this may be a slap-in-the-face to Machaut's inherently religious intents.
Highly recommended to listeners of all persuasions!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By ewomack TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 4, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I'm not an early music scholar by any stretch of the imagination. The extent of my reading on early music has been CD booklets. I just like listening to it. Regardless of whether or not you think this is an "accurate" recording of Machaut's Mass, it's an amazing listen.
The vocal slurs and slides sound amazing in the context of the 4 part harmony. The overlapping vibratos and pitch bends add an extra depth to the harmonies that is rarely heard in the west. If you listen to a lot of non-western music, these tones will not be shocking, but somewhat familiar.
For me the Kyrie was worth the entire price of the CD. The music blasts at you with texture. It's otherworldly and evocative. It's not what you would typically expect from a western Mass.
So don't let scholarship get in the way of enjoying music. In the end, we'll never really for absolutely sure without a doubt know what this music really sounded like in the 14th century. There were probably multiple ways of singing and interpreting it even then. This CD represents just one educated guess. I hope the Ensemble Organum continues to guess as brilliantly...
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