Machaut: Fortune’s child

Medieval floral

The Orlando Consort
hyperion CDA68195

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his CD features a sequence of secular songs  by Machaut on the theme of fortune. Whether you perform your Machaut purely vocally, or – as many younger ensembles do – with a mixture of voices and instruments, the frightening complexity and striking originality of Machaut’s music shines through. However, having listened to the Orlando Consort regularly live and on CD, I have puzzled over what it is about their sound that I don’t like and struggle to put my finger on it. The sound is a little opaque, the intonation is not consistently true, perhaps due to vibrato, and the overall sound never seems to me entirely comfortable. I have spoken to people who share my opinion and to others who have no idea what I am talking about, and perhaps this is my problem. Anyway, the CD offers the opportunity to judge for yourself, with a wide and varied selection of Machaut’s finest virelais  and ballades, sung by various combinations of voices from solo, and duet to trio. On the whole, I preferred the solo virelais.

D. James Ross

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