ECM New Series
ECM-1823 (B0001859-02, 62:36.
Review by Robert Reigle
one of the most prevalent themes amongst the world's musics. It comes as no
surprise, then, that composer and poet Guillaume de Machaut's (c. 1300-1377)
motets provide an exquisite demonstration of fourteenth century pathos. Fifteen
of the eighteen pieces recorded here concern heartbreak, trouble, death, or
suffering. The texts of the motets are of three quite different lengths: a tenor
with just a single word or phrase, a motetus of several lines, and a much more
extensive triplum. Thus the voices move at different speeds, singing the three
layers of text simultaneously.
live up to The Hilliard Ensemble's usual high standards. No instruments are
used in this recording. The beautiful singing and complex polyphony might easily
lead one to forget about the sighs and misfortunes of the poetry. Refreshingly,
nonetheless, the producer placed the complete texts (in the original French
or Latin, and English translation) at the front of the booklet, and the notes
at the end.
The Hilliard Ensemble used a new edition of the motets by Nicky Losseff, who
also wrote the four-page essay "Machaut and the Language of Pain."
In a "Performer's Note," baritone Gordon Jones discusses performance
practice questions, and his approach to singing a single word over the course
of a three-minute piece.
Recommended; when can we have the complete (23) motets?
our former incarnation as Jump Arts Journal.)