<< -- 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
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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