Machaut - Messe de Nostre Dame | Glossa GCDP32110

Machaut - Messe de Nostre Dame

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Label: Glossa

Cat No: GCDP32110

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Vocal/Choral

Release Date: 22nd April 2016



At last! A new recording of Machaut's Messe de Nostre Dame from Björn Schmelzer and Graindelavoix, one of Glossa’s long-standing artistic family members.

Following a trio of discs devoted to music in the spirit of the medieval master draughtsman Villard de Honnecourt, the Antwerp-based ensemble has now turned to the first known composer of an integral mass cycle: Guillaume de Machaut, who was a canon at Reims Cathedral in the 14th century. The work, described as a medieval monstre sacré, is performed by an all-male ensemble from Graindelavoix featuring both sharp high tenors and very low basses.

Graindelavoix’s continuing and vibrantly imaginative aesthetic is described, with customary imagery, by Björn Schmelzer in the accompanying booklet essay, where he declares his passion for “conjuring up the voices of the past” to describe the performance approach taken by Graindelavoix: one that emphasises the individuality of the singers rather than a homogeneous ensemble sound.

Schmelzer’s choice of accompanying Propers for a Lady Mass underscores Machaut’s own devotion to the Virgin Mary,
as do two of the composer’s spectacular motets, which are also associated with the city of Reims.


A new recording of Machaut’s Mass is always an event, and this one is compelling and provocative in equal measure: compelling, because of the beauty of the voices and the evident care that has been lavished on so many details; provocative, because so many of those details will surprise, startle and perhaps infuriate. ... Graindelavoix would be unthinkable without the pioneering work of Marcel Pérès (as Schmelzer concedes); but whereas Ensemble Organum’s recording of this Mass was something of an ugly duckling, I’ve seldom heard a recording of polyphony that synthesises these elements so persuasively. It’s the sort of performance that ought to get anyone excited about early music. The rest of the disc (including the two motets thrown in for good measure) is equally arresting. For now at least, this sceptic’s been won over.  Fabrice Fitch
Gramophone June 2016
Gramophone Editor's Choice

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