Messes de Barcelone et d'Apt —
Ensemble Gilles Binchois
Sacred Vocal Music from the 14th century
Evidence Classics 060
Après 40 ans d’activités, plus de 50 disques et quelque 1000 concerts, l’Ensemble Gilles Binchois cultive toujours le goût de la curiosité et du partage. Si son répertoire se trouve entre le Moyen Âge et la Renaissance, l’Ensemble a tout chanté, du chant grégorien au répertoire religieux du XIXe siècle. C’est aujourd’hui vers les rives de la Méditerranée qu’il guide nos oreilles, là où une intense vitalité artistique se développe entre les XIVe et XVe siècles. Suivant le modèle de Machaut, les compositeurs des cours d’Avignon, de Barcelone et de Chypre rivalisent d’ingéniosité : leurs motets et leurs messes sont le terrain de trouvailles rythmiques et mélodiques. Pour compléter le paysage sonore, l’Ensemble mené par Dominique Vellard interprète des pièces de plain-chant et des compositions instrumentales avec deux vièles et une mandoline médiévale. Premier jalon de ce 40e anniversaire, ce nouveau disque fait briller pour nous la chaude lumière du sud grâce aux voix des chanteurs et au timbre des cordes anciennes.
6 October 2019
Todd M. McComb
The remarks made while adding the new Ensemble Gilles Binchois album to my personal list already express much of what I'd otherwise say here, but I do want to note a few things (more) concretely: For one, it took months for this album to make its way to me. I'm not loving the direction of music retail lately, that's for sure.... (I suppose that, among the world's various wars — of the "trade" variety & otherwise — & intensifying persecutions, the ability to receive recordings promptly from European media companies is among the least important issues, but it's still what makes this particular project possible....)
It's also worth noting that, to this point, Vellard had recorded very little from the Ars Nova: He'd recorded a wide variety of earlier material, both of the polyphonic & (various) monophonic sorts, and then again with the generation of Dufay & Binchois, and further into a rather idiosyncratic selection of often much later music, but little from the Ars Nova beyond Machaut specifically. (Of course, his series of Machaut recordings — now decades old — continue to be represented on my favorites list, so I've actually enjoyed his work with the Ars Nova going back to the 1980s....)
That seems curious now that I've really noticed, but this latest recording (devoted to Barcelona & Apt masses) also seems to follow the inspiration & logic of the previous album of Ars Antiqua selections closely, making for a parallel Ars Nova anthology: Given its wonderful interpretive command — superbly flexible, yet emphatic phrasing from both voices & instruments (when used) — such a parallel opportunity seems particularly worthwhile. And the individual pieces aren't necessarily selected for their technical brilliance, but do illustrate & articulate an era of sacred music rather well, and indeed serve to provide much continuity with Vellard's various plainchant explorations, not only from the earlier era, but extending to many out-of-the-way survivals from modern times. This program & interpretation are thus both incredibly detailed & part of a "long view." E.g. the exotic intervals for which Apt et al. are known come to sound quite right in this context....