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GRAMOPHONE (12/2022)
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Reviewer :
David Fallows


One of the difficulties facing anybody who wishes to perform the German Minnesang repertory is that almost all the surviving music is in manuscripts copied after the middle of the 14th century, thus up to 200 years later than the poetry. Another is that quite a lot of the poetry is fairly dull religious praise. But the musicians of Ensemble Céladon fight gamely against those odds. The two singers, Clara Coutouly and Paulin Bündgen, both sing with clarity and energy and the four instrumentalists seem incapable of making an ugly sound, even if their improvised accompaniments would best be described as amiable rather than compelling.


In the booklet the texts are presented in Middle High German only; I reckon I am fairly fluent in that language but there really needed to be some help – though it is nice that Paulin Bündgen’s note briefly paraphrases the songs. The accompanying texts are in three languages, though Michael Eberle’s note begins unfortunately with the assertion that ‘There is hardly any art of the German Middle Ages that is still as important today as the Minnesang’. No architecture? No Nibelungenlied? No Parzival?


But perhaps the oddest decision was to have a man singing Walter von der Vogelweide’s ‘Under der Linden an der Heyde’, one of the loveliest women’s songs from the entire Middle Ages; and nobody who has heard it can possibly forget Andrea von Ramm’s performance with the Studio der Frühen Musik, recorded all of 60 years ago (3/68).



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