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De Cælis, Laurence Brisset
An enigmatic manuscript as regards its origin and purpose, and containing musical and poetic enigmas within it—the perfect illustration of Ars Subtilior, the Chantilly Codex, MS. 564 from the library of the Château de Chantilly, is one of the richest collections of French music from the late Middle Ages. Perfectly preserved, it bears witness to the imagination and virtuosity of the musicians who were exploring the limits of musical notation, which had only recently been established. Throughout their works, the composers skilfully scattered riddles, acrostics, plays on words, quotations and mythological, political or amorous allusions. They rivalled in intelligence but also, and above all, in sensitivity, for the intellectual dimension of this art remains at the service of undeniable beauty. Featuring vocal suppleness and gentleness of lines, the De Caelis ensemble maintains an amorous relationship with this repertoire, the clarity and richness of their timbres allowing us to savour the marvels of the polyphonic writing.
“Both text and music are very strange [of Fumeux fume par fumée], with the composition exploring harmonies and deep sonorities rarely encountered in that period.” International Record Review, April 2011
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Gothic Voices - The Unknown Lover
Songs by Machaut and Solage
World-renowned vocal ensemble Gothic Voices, celebrated 25 years with its first appearance on Avie – the first recording of the complete works of Solage, the leading composer of the ars subtilior in late 14th century France and yet one about whom virtually nothing is known – not even his first name. The CD’s title, The Unknown Lover, reflects the composer’s anonymity, together with the fact that all twelve of Solage’s songs are love-songs. They are perfectly paired with the seven ars nova style songs by his earlier French contemporary Guillaume de Machaut, which provide a sorbet-like contrast and variety of texture to the richness and complexity of Solage’s output.
Any information about Solage’s life can only be surmised from the texts of his songs. Judging from the dedication of S’aincy estoit, it appears he was active in the court of Jean, Duc de Berry, during the 1380s and 90s, and from the virtuosity required by works such as Corps feminin we can safely assume that his music was mainly composed for professional musicians. The extremes of Solage’s rhythmic and chromatic experimentation, as in Fumeux fume par fumee, are some of the most challenging that Gothic Voices has ever encountered, making full use of the singers’ considerable experience and expertise.
Gothic Voices secured their place in recording history with A Feather on the Breath of God, one of the best-selling early music recordings ever made which launched a veritable worldwide Hildegard von Bingen industry. 20 further recordings followed, as did numerous awards and critical acclaim. Avie is delighted to welcome them to the label with this extraordinary and virtuostic music.
Recorded 19 – 22 February 2006, Toddington Church, Gloucester
“Gothic voices catch hold of the extravagant weirdness of works (…) propelling them into the 21st Century with irresistible dash and enthusiasm.’” Classic FM Magazine
“Gothic Voices continue to exude vitality while masterfully controlling the most complex structures.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2006 ****
“The opening song, Solage's ballade Le Basile, is sung at a brisk tempo by a soloist over a busy "di-di-di-di" accompaniment. The singers manage with perfect ease the long vocalisations and rhythmic complexity of some of the ballades, for example S'aincy estoit: their performance flows as naturally as a gentle stream. Several of Machaut's virelais are particularly interesting, especially the passionate Mors sui se je ne vous voy, where two solo male voices respond to each other melodically.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2006
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