Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Mark Swinton | 01/07/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The earliest sacred polyphonic music evolved from plainchant, in the hands of composers like Magister Leoninus. His works as recorded on this disc show how that evolution took place: for a setting of a given text, sections of unison plainchant were interspersed with writing for two voices, based largely on the melodic contours of the plainchant - in other words, re-composition took place.The programme recorded here features some of Magister Leoninus' finest and most significant works, including "Alleluya. Non vos relinquam orphanos," "Alleluya. Pascha nostrum immolatus est" and "Viderunt omnes terre" - music with a key role in the liturgy at major festivals of the church's year. These particular motets could even be considered as the Christmas and Easter carols of their day: listen to them long enough and they will prove just as irresistable as their familiar modern counterparts.Part of that irresistability is due to the excellent performances on this disc. Red Byrd, consisting here of its founders John Potter and Richard Wistreich, sings the polyphonic music whilst the Cappella Amsterdam provide the plainchant. Their performance methods show clear signs of research; listening to it, I cannot help but imagine that this is what the music really sounded like when it was first performed. The Amsterdam singers give an exemplary demonstration of how plainchant should be sung: flowing from note to note almost like liquid, clearly enunciated, perfectly in tune and making something out of every word and sound (as though meditating on it). And Red Byrd does even better - John Potter is no stranger to this music, having recorded twelfth century material for ECM and Hyperion with the Hilliard Ensemble (his intonation at the very opening "Alleluya" is a spine-tingling and unforgettable sound); Richard Wistreich supports him with a rich baritone voice and demonstrates remarkable breath control in sustaining the underlying chant. Together, their balance is faultless, their embellishments are exquisite, their phrasing and attention to musical detail is scintillating. To cap it all, the recording venue (not revealed on the box but definitely somewhere in Amsterdam) provides some generous acoustics, completing this vivid aural impression of twelfth century polyphony at its simplest and best.Highly recommended!"
Fine performances of some of the very oldest Western music
B. Marold | Bethlehem, PA United States | 12/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"'Magister Leoninus Sacred Music from 12th Century Paris' by Red Byrd, John Potter, Richard Wistreich and the Capella Amsterdam is some of the very earliest 'old music' I have heard recorded anywhere. From the point of view of a non-musicologist who just happens to like old liturgical music, I recommend this to all people with similar interests.
My only disappointment is that the recording is not that of an entire mass, but of several pieces of masses from the important Christian festival days, most especially Christmas and Easter.
As usual, the Hyperion package and recording quality is first rate. The age, quality of the performance, and quality of the recording alone should make this an important recording for your colleciton."