29 Mar 2020

Medieval Folk in the Revivals of David Munrow

Medieval Folk in the Revivals of David Munrow
Edward Breen
The Oxford Handbook of Music and Medievalism
Edited by Stephen C. Meyer and Kirsten Yri

This article explores the close relationship between medievalism, orientalism, and folk music in the work of early music revival pioneer David Munrow, director of the Early Music Consort of London from 1968 to 1976. The focus of this study is his last television work Ancestral Voices, a BBC series exploring myths and legends surrounding early instruments and tracing those associations through history. It also examines other popular genres prevalent on British television at the same time and suggests that through a focus on a constellation of myth, medievalism, and foreign ancestry, Ancestral Voices demonstrates a significant cultural allegiance to other key 1970s works.

28 Mar 2020

Salve, Salve, Salve

Salve, Salve, Salve: Josquin’s Spanish Legacy
Contrapunctus, Owen Rees
Signum SIGCD608

All roads lead to Josquin, even those routed through the Iberian Peninsula. This superb new recording from Owen Rees and Contrapunctus charts a key way in which Josquin’s influence continued to mushroom after his own prolific career by exploring ostinato technique—the repeated use of a musical motto as binding agent in the polyphonic texture—through motets by Morales (c.1500-1553) and Guerrero (1527/8-1599) alongside Victoria’s (c.1548-1611) broad and statuesque Missa Gaudeamus.


This same rising motto is found in the top voices of Victoria’s Missa Gaudeamus, an elongated, arching phrase which Rees links to Josquin’s language. More polished in this performance but slightly more reserved than the Lay Clerks of Westminster Cathedral / Matthew Martin (Hyperion CDA67748) the smouldering slow burn approach of Contrapunctus pays continued dividends throughout this mass. What is lost from the Westminster Cathedral performance in terms of vocal heft and sheer thrilling energetic uplift is gained in finesse and brilliant sheen. 


To read the full text of this article please visit www.gramophone.co.uk (April 2020)

1 Mar 2020


Les Cris de Paris and Geoffroy Jourdain
Harmonia Mundi HMM902632

Passions moved, passions shared, and the Passion of Christ on the Cross. This programme, a seemingly disparate selection of early Baroque Venetian works punctuated by five settings of the Crucifixus, looks like it shouldn’t work, yet in the hands of the musicologist and conductor Geoffroy Jourdain it is both compelling and rewarding. The second Harmonia Mundi album from Les Cris de Paris is so much more than a selection box: it blends ‘transcendentally inspired secular music and sacred music embodied in theatrical fashion’, exploring commonality between sacred and secular genres.


The Crucifixus settings are the highlight of this album and Antonio Lotti’s Crucifixus a 10 is a particular standout. Readers will know this from Andrew Parrott’s searingly beautiful recording (Virgin/Erato) but Jourdain’s new performance rivals this for sheer dramatic impact. Whereas Parrott shone a spotlight on the sequence of mouth-watering suspensions in the upper voices, Jourdain undercuts this texture with a menacing continuo team whose percussive strumming evokes the nails on the Cross and provides a springboard for the voices to decry ‘passus et sepultus est’ (suffered and was buried) to devastating effect. Or perhaps Jourdain’s genius here was to follow it with the Entrata to Monteverdi’s Ballo delle ingrate. Strange bedfellows in theory but a superb transition in practice. This disc is a fine evocation of Baroque passions in every sense and one that keeps giving beyond the first few hearings. Absolutely not to be missed.

To read the full text of this article please visit www.gramophone.co.uk (March 2020)