Medieval & Renaissance Music: recordings as a starting point

December 14, 2009

My starting point is some of my recordings, my Top 20. What becomes obvious is that I haven’t listened to much recorded later than around 1990, which is – rather shockingly – some two decades ago. These recordings of mine were au courant when I last studied Western Art music in a university setting; probably my greatest memory is composing C13 French motets in authentic style. I have no idea if the recordings on these CDs are still “valid” in terms of having stood the test of time, since Medieval and Renaissance music hardly feature at all on classical radio station lineups and so is not something I consume daily. But I have absolutely no doubt that things have progressed enormously in the field since and  I guess that will be my journey from now till July 2010.

Before Semester 1 starts on 15 Feb, in exactly eight weeks’ time, I need to work on several things simulatenously:

* get stuck into the eReadings already available for the course, which are plainly academic papers covering specifics;

* get an aural overview of the whole period, roughly 800-1600;

* get stuck into the primary source material from Taruskin & Weiss, probably starting with their chapter 46 and working backwards. In terms of musical anthologies, I only have HAM vol.1 at this time.

So. for the moment, my Top 16 recordings in roughly chronological order:

Gregorian Chant (C10/11):     Salve Festa Dies: Gregorian Chant for Seasons of the Year. In Dulci Jubilo.

C12 (1100-1199): Jaufre Rudel, XIIe siecle troubadour: instrumental vocal music of the 12th century. La Compagnie Medievale. English Medieval Songs: the 12th and 13th centuries. Music of the Middle Ages, vol.3. 

C13 (1200-1299): The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: motets and songs from 13thc France. Gothic Voices.    Music of the Crusades [13thc]. Early Music Consort of London and David Munrow.    Wanderers’ Voices: medieval cantigas & Minnesang [13th c.]. The Newberry Consort.     Dufay Collective: a dance in the garden of mirth. Medieval instrumental music.    Laude, Medieval Italian Spiritual Songs. Musicians of the Early Music Institute.

C14 (1300-1399): Guillaume de Machaut, c1300-1377) Messe de Notre Dame/Le Lai de al Fonteinne/Ma fine est mon commencement. The Hilliard Ensemble.   Chominciamento di gioia: virtuoso dance-music from the time of Boccaccio’s Decameron [1350]. Ensemble Unicorn.   Il Solazzo: music for a medieval banquet [late C14]. The Newberry Consort. 

C15 (1400-1499): The Island of St Hylarion: music of Cyprus, 1413-1422. Ensemble Project Ars Nova. La Rondinella: a Song of David. Music of the Sephardim and Renaissance Spain {post1492; 1530s].  

C16 (1500-1599): The Digital Dance: Renaissance Dances and Baroque Favourites for Virginals and Harpsichord [1520+]. David Kinsella. The Mannerist Revolution: vocal works by Gesualdo, Monteverdi, Wert and Marenzio. Pomerium Musices. Allegri Miserere [1640], Palestrina Stabat Mater [1590s]. Choir of Kings College Cambridge.


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