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Titled The Single Rose, this
is the seventh entry in the projected complete works of Guillaume de Machaut
sung from a new edition to be published by Medieval Institute Publications.
There are six virelais, including four for one voice distributed among the
four members of the Consort. Three ballades, three motets, and two rondeaux
complete the program, including the first recording of the rondeau Merci
vous pri. The other rondeau, Certes mon oueil, has been recorded only in the
Orlando’s older Archiv disc (Fanfare 22:5). This is the first sung version
of two virelais, Loyauté vueil, once recorded on an organetto, and Se d’amer,
once recorded in an instrumental rendition. Another virelai, Se ma dame, has
been recorded only twice, both times with instruments. These last three are
all solo renditions here, unaccompanied as always, Loyauté vueil sung by
Donald Greig, Se d’amer by Mark Dobell, and Se ma dame by Matthew Venner. So
there are really four vocal premiere recordings.
The other nine works are
represented on records, some better than others. The group includes De tout
sui’s first recording in four decades (Lawrence Earp wrote, “No recording
examined is usable”), and apparently the first complete performance. Only
Sequentia’s version of Je suis aussi was even acceptable, and that was not
commercially available. Quant je sui mis, sung here by tenor Angus Smith,
matches a fine baritone solo version in a Gothic Voices disc (30:4). The
most recent De triste cuer, Lucien Kandel’s (33:5), was accompanied. Se je
souspir is hard to find unaccompanied with all three verses, as here. The
ballade De toutes flours was also in Orlando’s Archiv disc. The motets are
all in the Hilliard Ensemble disc (27:5), none of them as slow as that
collection was. Hence most of the selections heard here are a real
enhancement of the Machaut discography.
The singing matches the high level of previous entries. The three motets are especially rewarding. I count 11 works of Machaut (including three recorded only instrumentally) that are not available on record, and that ignores the poor quality of some of the older performances. The consort still has a long way to go. Grab this quickly if you want to see more of the series. Recommended without reserve.