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Machaut: Fortune’s Child

The Orlando Consort (Hyperion)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
CD_CDA68195_Machaut_CMYK

Machaut Fortune’s Child
The Orlando Consort
Hyperion CDA68195 60:40 mins

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This is the fifth CD in the Orlando Consort series of works by Guillaume de Machaut (c1300-1377), and it maintains their strong standards. Most of these 14 compositions (Ballades, Virelais, Rondeaux and Motets) have been recorded only very rarely if at all. Their texts represent the struggle between desire and rejection reflected through the prism of medieval courtly love – and the resulting changes of fortune explain the title of the disc. As we have come to expect with this group, the performances are eminently professional and poised. The duet Riches d’amour is marvellously tuned and lithe, and several of the solo pieces (Dame je vueil, Dou mal etc) are sung with purity and precision. Elsewhere (Dous amis, Trop plus) the lowest voice, although rich, is too unfocused to preserve the delicacy of these textures. The liner notes go into great detail about the feelings in the texts, and so it is odd to find some performances implausibly bland. Gais et jolis is supposed to be concerned with ‘unbridled joy’ but hardly raises a shy smile, and the cool clarity of Douce dame lacks the subtle shaping, directionality and warmth of the Gothic Voices performance on their album The Unknown Lover (Avie).

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Anthony Pryer