A 14th-century Salmagundi

Blue Heron
BHCD 1011

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How lovely to see the enterprising Bostonian vocal ensemble Blue Heron back in the recording studio, albeit for this rather brief CD of music earlier in period than their previous impressive discography – particularly memorable was a ground-breaking series of CDs of music from the Peterhouse Partbooks. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Blue Heron prove superbly in tune with this 14th-century music, which I notice they have approached through recordings of the secular music of Johannes Ockeghem. The voices are occasionally joined by instruments for music by Machaut, Cruce, Vitry, Landini, Jacob Senleches and Jacopo da Bologna. Incidentally, this CD has nothing to do with psalms, the title coming from Rabelais’s Pantagruel and denoting a hodgepodge, and its contents consisting of secular songs! The performances are as I have suggested entirely enjoyable, although I noticed some unfortunate mic popping on a couple of tracks. It is interesting to hear the voices of Blue Heron sounding so natural one-to-a-part and with instruments, including a fine idiomatic contribution on bray harp by the group’s director, Scott Metcalfe. 

D. James Ross

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