The Sword & the Lily: 15th-Century Polyphony for Judgement Day

The Sword & the Lily: 15th-Century Polyphony for Judgement Day
Fount & Origin / James Tomlinson
Inventa Records INV1008

I am enormously fond of a good programme concept and this debut album from early music ensemble Fount & Origin offers "a musical meditation on the Franco Flemish painter Rogier van der Weyden’s altarpiece image of The last judgement at the end of time". This multipaneled work in the genre known quaintly as ‘doom’ hung in a hospice to urge patients towards last-minute repentance. As visual art could persuade, so people believed that listening to polyphony, even if you couldn't sing it yourself, also offered a pathway to salvation. Thus, nine 15th century polyphonic works from the 15th century trace themes and characters in the painted panels and form a solid musical arc bookended by Requiem movements.


The highlight for me is Johannes Regis’ (1425-c.1496) bold and confident Missa L’homme armé / Dum sacrum mysterium: Kyrie. The beauty of the voices and subtly of this performance marks this album as a debut of note.

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