Ahead of their time
S. Gustafson | New Albany, IN USA | 01/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The composers featured on this particular disk often constituted something of an "avant garde" for their time. This music is associated with the Papal court in exile at Avignon, and represents a meeting of Italian styles as typified by Landini with the French music perfected by Machaut.
Musical notation was in its infancy, and composers had only recently invented the means to write down complicated rhythmic patterns. They composed, moreover, for what was apparently a skilled coterie of performers, and listeners who were equally sophisticated.
So what you get here occasionally is pieces of arcane rhythmic complexity like -Lorsque Arthus- and -Le Greygnour Bien-, pieces which surely must have taxed the mental resources of both performers and audiences alike. Happily, Pickett's ensemble pulls off the trick of making it seem almost natural.
Like most music made to appeal to a vanguardish clique, these rather inaccessible rhythmic explorations proved to be a dead end. But you also get the first inklings of what would bear much more copious fruit later: the first introductions of imitative counterpoint, as heard in the birdsong pieces, and at its most charming in the miniature masterpiece -Quan je voy le duc-."