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A Medieval Christmas

4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 25, 1999
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

New York Ensemble for Early Music's program of seasonal repertoire is a "Sold-Out" holiday tradition. Recorded in the great Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, New York City, A Medieval Christmas features lyric songs - sacred and secular - by Hildegard von Bingen, Perotin, von Reuenthal and anonymous composers from the schools of Notre Dame and St. Martial - gloriously sung and deftly played by EEM's six Artists in Residence. Angelus ad virginem" (the song Chaucer referred to in "The Canterbury Tales"), angelic Hildegard chant, earthy 13th-century Italian laude and spirited Spanish cantigas illuminate a treasury of joyous celebration.

Review

"Intricately paced, expertly played, and artfully recorded." -- Listener Magazine

"Record of the Month!... The interpretation is delicious and very rhythmic, and never academic... a sensation... the 'crme de la crme'" -- Alte Musik Aktuell

"Wow!... spectacular sound - very direct and alive." -- Stereophile

...inventive...invigorating...very appealing sweetness... and at times...happily raucous...an absorbing hour...very attractive alternative holiday season sound-track. -- Early Music America, Winter 1999-2000

Variegated adventures of more than historical interest. Polish, Rusticity and Grandeur of Spirit. Irresistible. Can't get enough... I'm addicted…" --New York Times, December 15, 2002
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 25, 1999)
  • Original Release Date: August 1, 1998
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ex Cathedra Records
  • ASIN: B00002CF64
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,380 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

By George Peabody VINE VOICE on June 24, 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Renz is a unique figure in the Early Music movement. Under his enterprising direction, Early Music New York has earned accolades worldwide for its vibrant performance of music drama from the Middle Ages through the early classical periods. I have never purchased any of his recordings that were not well-researched as to content and always skillfully performed. And at the same time VERY ENTERTAINING. My only fear is that I will leave this world before hearing all of them!!!!

New York's Ensemble for Early Music's program of seasonal repertoire is a "Sold-out" holiday tradition. Recorded in the great cathedral of Saint John the Divine, New York City "A Medieval Christmas" features lyric songs - sacred and secular - by Hildegard von Bingen, Perotin, von Reuenthal and anonymous composers from the schools of Notre Dame and St. Martial -gloriously sung and deftly played by New York's Ensemble's six artists in residence: John Alston, bass; Marshall Coid, countertenor, vielle; Todd Frizzell, tenor, symphonia; Wayne Hankin, winds, tenor; Wolodymyr Smishkewych, tenor, percussion; and Jon Szabo, baritone, vielle. These musicians perform unconducted but with a rich thoroughly unified sound.

Some of my favorites: Perotin (c.1200) "Beata viscera" is scored for solo voice throughout the five minutes; beautifully rendered by the countertenor (Coid), though his voice could be mistaken for a Mezzo soprano.. The more familiar and often recorded "Angelus ad Virginem" (the song Chaucer referred to in his Canterbury Tales). The Italian "Laude Novella" and the spirited Spanish "Cantigas de Santa Maria" illuminate a treasury of joyous celebration.

The instrumental pieces were energetically played and the ensemble well-balanced.
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Format: Audio CD
This is not a "run of the mill" Christmas CD. These pieces were written hundreds of years before Christmas Carols became popular. Plainsong chant and insturmental excellence abound. This cd even has medieval drumming. I listen to this one all year around.
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Renz and his gang come up with great pieces that anyone can love, and they bring real spirit to it. Their concerts in NY are always a lot of fun. Check out their Ren. & Baroque Christmas CDs, too.
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"A Medieval Christmas" avoids the kitsch, ducks the obvious, steers clear of "Holly and the Ivy" and "Greensleeves," and actually provides what the title says. The scholarship involved in the choice of material is sound, and the performances are terrific. While the oratorio piece may not be everyone's favorite, I find the elaborate and delicate musical counterpoint of this pre-baroque instrumentation so lovely that I play the disk year round.
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