Ou beau chastel

Leuven Chansonnier vol. 2
Sollazzo Ensemble
passacaille AMY059 | PAS 1109

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The Sollazzo Ensemble return to the Leuven Chansonnier for a second selection from the 62 works it records. Alongside the established composers (Ockeghem, Caron, Frye, Morton, and Busnoys), there is anonymous music which has not been found in any other source, and which supplies the title for their CD. The Ensemble provides convincing and musically engaging accounts of this important music, although just occasionally I felt that some of the songs were a little over-interpreted, with some unidiomatic vocal swooping and portamenti. This is living music, and performers who are undeniably very familiar with the repertoire must be permitted to interpret it meaningfully, but I felt that some of the mannerisms in the vocal contribution sounded disconcertingly out of period. That aside, these are bold and effective interpretations, and it is good to report that the ‘new’ anonymous material is every bit as fine as the established, ‘named’ music – but for the whim of the copyist, we might be adding to the output of one of the familiar masters here, or perhaps more intriguingly even adding to the panoply of the masters of the period. I found it particularly exciting to hear a very persuasive account of Walter Frye’s ubiquitous three-part setting of Ave Regina performed by voices and wind instruments – the performances in the 1980s (by, amongst others, René Clemencic) of the music of this period combining wind instruments and voices were often dismissed as eccentric at the time, but with the welcome challenging of the ‘a cappella orthodoxy’ may prove to have been a perfectly viable and plausible performance option. 

D. James Ross

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