The coronation of Charles II was the glorious celebration of the restoration of the monarchy following a coup d'ètat, civil war and an 11-year government of the Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell. The return of the monarch was sealed in early 1660 and the official coronation took place in London just a year later. It was a large-scale political spectacle and a festive patriotic statement. The sequence of the coronation festivities is well documented in texts and pictures, but contemporary statements concerning the music that was played are imprecise.
This CD from the ever-enterprising Belgian label, Musique en Wallonie, presents clean, clear, penetrating, yet appropriately emotionally-charged singing from Psallentes, the nine-person group from that country. They have captured the calm and the conviction of anonymous vocal works - including the beautiful Mass, Sancta Trinitas - from fifteenth and sixteenth century religious music of the region. The manuscripts (shelf-marked ‘BCT A 58’) are located in the cathedral of Tournai (also in Walloon) and were rediscovered in 2006 after having disappeared (and thought lost) at the end of the Second World War.
Have you ever seen any beguines? We haven’t either. Those devout laywomen of centuries past are no more. But would you like to hear them sing? That is possible. The Beghinae of Psallentes♀ sing works from manuscripts found in the beguinages of Bruges, Antwerp and Amsterdam, among others. Beguines? They appear before your very eyes.
An antiphon for the Lambertus vespers, and a famous piece of music in Liège. With the voices of Conor Biggs, Peter Maus, Philippe Souvagie, Govaart Haché, Adriaan De Koster, Paul Schils, Sander Le Roy, Pieter Coene and Hendrik Vanden Abeele (artistic direction). The antiphon is part of the office for Lambertus, as made by Etienne de Liège. The manuscript used is Utrecht, Universiteitsbibliotheek, Ms. 406. The antiphon is on folio 171r and 171v. Stephen of Liège was bishop of Liège from 901 to 920. He was a hagiographer and composer of church music. He was an abbot of Lobbes and canon of Metz Cathedral. His In Festi Sanctisissimae Trinitatis, an office for the feast of the Trinity, is available as a recording. The celebration of the Feast of the Holy Trinity is attributed to him.
The Rhine turned crimson when the royal princess Ursula and her eleven thousand companions were slaughtered by the Huns. Many centuries later, Hildegard of Bingen composed a plainchant office in Ursula’s honour and sent a copy to the Abbey of Villers. The singers of Psallentes♀ sing from this famous manuscript (now housed in Dendermonde).
All your enemies open their mouths wide against you; they scoff and gnash their teeth and say, “We have swallowed her up. This is the day we have waited for; we have lived to see it.” The Flemish singers sing with a clear, appealing simplicity that exudes an authentic monastic atmosphere. The rather spacious acoustics is clearly a large extent on without which the intelligibility of the text is at stake. Well done, five stars for the registration. In unison, homogeneous music if it's the little details that stand out. Thus, the "monks" in phrases that end with the vowel 'a' mutually not always agree on the sound of it. A little side note on a beautiful CD with the smooth-flowing Gregorian invites us to listen more often.
Santiago de Compostela was a pilgrimage site where the liturgy was accompanied by an exceptionally rich musical culture. A significant part of western polyphonic tradition was developed there. An important witness to this is the ‘Codex Calixtinus’. The manuscript volume is named for Pope Calixtus II, who had been abbot of the famous Abbey of Cluny before becoming pope in 1119. The manuscript contains Gregorian chant and polyphony in honour of the Apostle James.
Have you ever seen any beguines? We haven’t either. Those devout laywomen of centuries past are no more. But would you like to hear them sing? That is possible. The Beghinae of Psallentes sing works from manuscripts found in the beguinages of Bruges, Antwerp and Amsterdam, among others. Beguines? They appear before your very eyes.
The angels on the Ghent Altarpiece (Van Eyck) are singing plainchant and/or polyphony. If it is plainchant, they could be responses from the period after Easter. These responses make explicit references to the book of Revelations - which makes sense because the Ghent Alterpiece is full of references to the Apocalypse. The combination of these chants with two-voices Agnus-Dei fragments from masses by Dufay, Ockeghem, Desprez and others, make for a series of small and beautiful vignettes. Triptychs.