The soaring vaults of Beauvais Cathedral are lofty enough to ignore almost any human endeavour in the remote spaces so far below; and it says much for the youth of the city that they dared to present them with a Daniel play of such wit and resource as the Dufay Collective now offers (assuming the play continued in production as the mighty structure towered steadily aloft). The mediaeval Latin follows the Bible closely, and is therefore unhistorical. Belshazzar was never king in Babylon, and it was his father Nabonidus who was eventually overthrown by Cyrus, not Darius. Be that as it may, a wonderful touch in the play is to have a reluctant Abacuc (known more familiarly as that vociferous minor prophet Habakkuk) dragged in by an angel to give Daniel his dinner in the lions' den.
There are two main episodes in the play: a thirteenth-century Belshazzar's feast, and the decree of Darius that reluctantly consigns Daniel to the lions. After riotous drinking from the Jewish sacred vessels, there come forth the fingers of a man's hand with their fateful message.
Listen -- Ecce Sunt Ante Faciem (The Writing on the Wall, Part I)
(track 5, 0:25-0:58) © 2008 harmonia mundi
As in the Bible, the queen offers sound advice, and suggests that Daniel is their only hope. Once the prophet has explained that Belshazzar is weighed in the balance and found wanting, he is much rewarded, and the vessels are returned to the temple amid great exuberance.
Listen -- Regis Vasa Referentes (Daniel Adorned, Part I)
(track 16, 0:25-0:53) © 2008 harmonia mundi
The reputation of Daniel is such that Darius in his turn has him summoned to the palace so that he should become the third in the land. During his processional to the king, the choristers celebrate the significance of Christmas.
Listen -- Congaudentes Celebremus (The Delegation to Daniel, Part II)
(track 20, 0:42-1:38) © 2008 harmonia mundi
They also ascribe to Daniel biblical episodes belonging rightly to other prophets; but no matter. Jealous counsellors trick the king into signing a vainglorious decree that will consign anyone worshipping another but the king himself to the lions.
Listen -- Num Quid, Dari (Evil Counsel, Part II)
(track 25, 1:22-2:00) © 2008 harmonia mundi
The play remains biblical to the extent of tumbling into the pit, after Daniel's survival, all those who had conspired against him, with their wives and children. The lions gobbled them instantly, and smiled gratefully.
Three of the five instrumentalists in the Dufay Collective play bells as well as much else; and it is their joyous tintinnabulation that lingers longest in the mind amid sounds that continually intrigue and delight. The individual characters of the play are sung with appropriate authority, and the Southwell choristers, based on a building as different as could be from the flamboyant Beauvais, add resounding weight to their various processions. It remains now for the Collective to dig up a manuscript containing the Beauvais play of the asses, that dealt with the Holy Family's trip to Egypt.
Copyright © 18 September 2008
Robert Anderson, Cairo, Egypt
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Ludus Danielis - The Play of Daniel - The Dufay Collective
HMU 907479 Stereo NEW RELEASE 68'23" 2008 harmonia mundi usa
The Dufay Collective:
John Potter, tenor, Daniel
Harvey Brough, tenor, Darius
Simon Grant, bass, Balthasar
Vivien Ellis, soprano, Queen
Clara Sanabras, soprano, Angel / Prologue track 1
Tom Phillips, tenor, noble / satrap / counsellor
Simon Wall, tenor, noble / satrap / counsellor
Charles Pott, baritone, noble / magi / messenger
Robert Rice, baritone, noble / magi / messenger
Giles Lewin, tenor, Habbakuk
Choristers of Southwell Minster:
Robin Blackwell, David Harrison, Samuel Hucklebridge, William Inman, Thomas Rayner, Leon Robson, Alexander Turner
Jon Banks, harp, bells, percussion
Giles Lewin, vielle, bells
Susanna Pell, vielle
Peter Skuce, harp, portative organ, percussion
William Lyons, flute, recorder, simfony, bells, percussion, director
The Play of Daniel - A Medieval Drama
Prelude (Ad honorem tui Christi; Chorus: Astra Tenenti)
The Court of Belshazzar (Rex in aeternum / Vos qui paretis)
The Vessels Defiled (Chorus: Jubilemus Regi nostro)
The Writing on the Wall (Ecce sunt ante faciem / Vocate matematicos / Rex in aeternum / Qui scripturam; Nescimus per solvere)
The Queen's Advice (Conductus: Cum doctorum; Rex, in aeternum vive! / Cum judae captivis / Vos Danielem)
Daniel Discovered (Vir propheta / Multum miror; Hic verus Dei / Pauper et exulans)
The Interpretation (Tune Daniel; Rex, tua nolo munera; Qui sic solvit)
Daniel Adorned (Tolle vasa; Conductus: Solvitur in libro Salomonis)
The Vessels Restored (Conductus: Regis vasa referentes)
The Court of Darius (Chorus: Ecce rex Darius; Audite, Principes)
The Delegation to Daniel (Ex regali venit imperio; Conductus: Congaudentes celebremus; Quia novite)
The Decree (Rex, in aeternum vive! / Decreverunt in tua curia; Ego mando et remando; Daniel at Prayer - La prière de Daniel (instrumental))
Evil Counsel (Num quid, Dari / Si sprevit legem; Heu! Heu! Heu! / Deus quem colis)
The Lion's Den (Hujus rei non sum reus)
Deliverance (Abacuc / Novit Dei / Surge, frater / Recordatus es mei; Tene, putas / Rex / Danielem educite)
Just Desserts (Merito haec patimur)
The Prophecy (Deum Danielis; Ecce venit sanctus ille; Nuntium vobis; Te deum laudamus)
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