Machaut, Tye, Lamb, Dowland, Purcell, Pärt, Partch, Body, Cage, Schnittke, Kassia, Moondog, Pérotin, Hildegard Of Bingen

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Body,Cage,Dowland,Hildegard Of Bingen,Kassia,Lamb,Machaut,Moondog,Part,Partch,Pérotin,Purcell,Schnittke,Tye
LABELS: Nonesuch
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Early Music
WORKS: Works by Machaut, Tye, Lamb, Dowland, Purcell, Pärt, Partch, Body, Cage, Schnittke, Kassia, Moondog, Pérotin, Hildegard of Bingen,
PERFORMER: Kronos Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: 7559-79457-2

Advertisement

With the exception of that particular species of label victim addicted to the Kronos brand name, it’s hard to imagine for whom this selection is intended. Not early music lovers, surely. They will know their Machaut, Pérotin and Tye in sources not only more historically accurate, but also offering the music robed in more exquisite sounds. In fact, transcribing this repertoire into the colour of four solo strings may seem counter-productive. For example, much of the splendour of Pérotin’s lengthy Viderunt omnes is lost in such a move: its interesting metrical life is levelled to the rhythm of the jogger’s trot. Music from a later period, Dowland’s Lachrymae antiquae and the second of Purcell’s Four-Part Fantasies, fare better, though perhaps with rather less to lose. The theme seems to be the resemblance often noted between medieval and recent modern music. Well, yes; and Psalom by that arch-neomedievalist Arvo Pärt judiciously makes the point. It can only go so far, however. It’s certainly good to hear Partch’s Studies on Ancient Greek Scales. Cage’s Quodlibet and a Synchrony No. 2 by someone called Moondog add a touch of levity. All the same, the overall artistic effect of the album is puzzling.

Advertisement

Nicholas Williams