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The Call of the Phoenix: Rare 15th-century English Church Music Import

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, November 12, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

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The English 15th century was a period wracked with civil strife, so the austere, ethereally beautiful music we hear on this disc must have been balm to salve troubled souls--not so different from this disc's role as an island of grace and reflection in our own troubled era. Little survives from the period, but the Orlando Consort has chosen wisely: mass movements and motets written by names familiar (Dunstable and Lambe) and unfamiliar (Pyamour and Mowrer), along with our old friend Anonymous. What keeps this from being an exercise in musical archaeology is the vibrant freshness the Orlandos bring to the music. The four male voices blend wonderfully and trace the sinuous interwoven lines of the music with accurate intonation and rhythmic verve. All the works are on a high level. Though it may be futile to single out highlights in what amounts to an all-highlight disc, there are special delights to be found in Benet's "Gloria," Frye's "Ave regina," and Forest's "Tota pulcra es." If you like the Anonymous 4, you'll love these virtuoso male equivalents: two tenors, a baritone, and a countertenor. Full texts and translations included. --Dan Davis
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Product Details

  • Performer: John Trouluffe, Forest
  • Orchestra: John Pyamour
  • Composer: John Benet, John Dunstable, Walter Frye, Walter Lambe, Richard Mowere, et al.
  • Audio CD (November 12, 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Harmonia Mundi Fr.
  • ASIN: B00006JR12
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #347,629 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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I'm a fan of Gregorian chant and some other forms of chant, especially in the early morning hours as a calm way to start the day and perhaps do some journal-writing.

The harmonies on this CD are outstanding, almost a kind of call-recall in some places. It is a wonderful addition to my small collection of chant, and I am very glad to have it.
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Format: Audio CD
Modern Japan designates its greatest artists, musicians, and craftsmen as "living national Treasures" and grants them special concessions and protections. Great Britain should do the same, and the first honorees might well be the four "choir boys" -- Robert Harre-Jones, Angus Smith, Charles Daniels, and Donald Grieg -- who call themselves The Orlando Consort. British choirs and vocal ensembles -- from huge cathedral and university choruses to OVPP quartets like The Hilliard Ensemble and The Orlando Consort -- have been enormously popular and influential in developing a "market" for the splendid repertoire of Medieval/Renaissance polyphony. There's been a steep "learning curve" in performance skills and practices in Early Music over the past five decades, and some worthy pioneers have failed to keep up with the standards they helped to establish. Not so, The Orlando Consort! They began at the front of the pack, they never flagged, and they are still among the best.

The Orlando Consort was founded in 1988, 23 years ago; according to their web page, they have recorded 21 CDs, just about one a year. That's admirable restraint, though if they'd recorded twice as many, I'm certain they'd all be excellent and I'd have spent twice as much money keeping up with them. Most of the Orlandos' performances are of European pre-Baroque polyphony, always sung one-on-a-part, but their discography includes modern music, improvisations, and ethnographic explorations. They are British, nevertheless, and their recordings of British polyphony from the centuries before 1600 are among their finest. The same phenomenon can be heard from other British vocal ensembles -- The Tallis Scholars, The Hilliards, The Cardinal's Musick, etc. -- that British voices sound best singing British music.
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