Music and Vision homepage Jenna Orkin: Writer Wannabe Seeks Brush With Death - From the heights of greatness (the Juilliard School; musicians Rosalyn Tureck and Nadia Boulanger) via way-ward paths to the depths of wickedness these reminiscences will entertain and enlighten.


<<  -- 3 --  Rex Harley    MANY DELIGHTS


But not all this music is either elaborate or full of passing dissonances. The short Jhesu corona Virginum is a case in point. It lasts less than two minutes, and is both ravishingly beautiful and very surprising, for its harmonic inventiveness transports it nearly six centuries forward. Taken out of context it sounds exactly like the product of an early Twentieth Century French composer, drawing on a much earlier idiom. In fact, if you were to play it anonymously to a friend and claim they'd been listening to a lost motet by Duruflé, you'd probably remain unchallenged.

There are too many delights on this disc to discuss here, and such uniform excellence of singing to single out separate performers. One name cannot go unmentioned, however: that of the self-effacing Anne-Marie Deschamps, who as director of Venance Fortunat has been responsible for elicting such outstanding performances from her singers. This is a CD to treasure, and to share with others. For, though it may appear on the surface to be a specialist disc, of somewhat recherché material, it cannot fail to delight anyone who loves the sound of a capella singing at its finest.

A final thought. Why is it that French early music performers are heard so rarely in this country? Recently, Alla Francesca gave a wonderful recital at Cardiff castle, the first time they'd been in Britain for eight years. Then they boarded a plane and flew straight back to France. It makes no sense to me.

The good news, however, is that the concert will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3, as a lunch-time recital, some time in November or early December. Keep your eyes open.

Copyright © 6 November 2002 Rex Harley, Cardiff, UK


Altera Roma

ED13123 2001 L'Empreinte Digitale

Venance Fortunat ensemble; La Schola

14th century anonymous polyphonic music: Agnus Dei; Gloria; Kyrie 'O Viergo Sacrata Maria'; Jhesu corona Virginum; Ave Maris Stella; Gloria ('Baralipton' - Codex Ivrea); Credo; Gloria Clemens Deus artifex; Ave Regina Celorum; Credo 'bonbarde'; Sanctus ('Sanans fragilia'); Kyrie; Sanctus de Tapissier



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