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Fascinating and Rewarding

Machaut, O'Regan and Brumel from
The Orlando Consort and Viva Voce,
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER


The Orlando Consort is currently in the middle of a project centred on Machaut's Messe de Notre Dame. Launched at London's Spitalfields Festival in 2006, it is being toured round the country, and later to Poland and Holland.

Machaut's Mass is arguably the greatest single work of the 14th century -- the earliest known setting of the Mass to be conceived as a whole. The Orlando Consort have interspersed the movements (including the plainsong Mass propers -- chants appropriate to the specific season at which the Mass is performed) with a specially-commissioned piece by Tarik O'Regan, Scattered rhymes. For this they are joined by an amateur choir local to each performance -- on this occasion (Djanogly Recital Hall, Nottingham University, Nottingham, UK, 3 May 2007) Nottingham University's student chamber choir Viva Voce.

Tarik O'Regan. Photo © 2004 Suzanne Jansen
Tarik O'Regan. Photo © 2004 Suzanne Jansen

O'Regan's work sets three Petrarch sonnets ('scattered rhymes' (diverse rime) is how Petrarch himself described his work), juxtaposed with an anonymous Latin text from a contemporary English manuscript. His command of choral timbres and textures is genuinely impressive; the opening of Part 2 contains some of the most beautiful new writing for chorus I have heard. Viva Voce, conducted by Jonathan Tilbrook, met the work's challenges head on, and came up smiling.

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Copyright © 14 May 2007 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK


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