Monday, April 14, 2008
At last - music treated as music
In the week when the BBC, EMI and UK media decided that Nigel Kennedy is the future of classical music I greatly enjoyed a new CD from an independent Belgian label that proves that there is still life beyond the celebrity circus.
Llibre Vermell from the Ricecar label is an imaginative realisation based on these anonymous words in the famous medieval manuscript in the Abbey of Monserrat: "Sometimes the pilgrims who are holding vigil in the church of the Holy Virgin of Montserrat wanted to sing and dance, but they were only allowed to sing respectable and pious songs". The CD brings together the Namur Chamber Choir as the pilgrims, the Psallentes as the monks and the excellent boys choir Les Pastoureaux as the choirboys of the Abbey together with period instrumentalists under the direction of Christophe Deslignes. The boy's choir are, for me, the real stand-outs on an exceptional disc, how refreshing to hear young voices in early music.
The recording, which derived from a 2007 Festival de Wallonie concert, is a total delight from start to finish. It combines musical scholarship (which is more than can be said for Kennedy's cadenza in the first movement of his new Mozart concerto recording) with more exuberance and sheer joy in music making than I have heard for years. A mixed programme, which moves between Gregorian Chant, music from the Le Llibre Vermell and dance, avoids the inherent monotony of so many early music discs, while producer Jérôme Lejeune and engineer Philippe de Magnée make the magnificent space of the Église Saint-Apollinaire in Bolland an integral part of the performance.
Research carried out some time back reported that the average classical CD is played 1.3 times after purchase, so the five playings that my copy of Llibre Vermell has received in three days must prove something. I can't offer higher praise than saying I am sure David Munrow would have been delighted with this new release.
EM Forster mused in Howards End - "I wonder if the day will ever return when music will be treated as music". This highly recommended recording is welcome proof that the only thing that needs to spin in classical music is the CD.
More young voices in early music here.
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