Collection: The Age of Cathedrals

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COMPOSERS: Anonymous,Léonin
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Propter veritatem; Virgo flagellatur; Beata Viscera
PERFORMER: Paul Elliott, Alan Bennett (tenor); Theatre of Voices/Paul Hillier (bass)


This is mostly a celebration of composers who worked in Paris in the 12th century. Their works were collected together in a ‘Great Book of Organum’. There is great variety here. An anonymous ‘Natus est rex’ is for solo voice alone but is given a thrilling and dramatic presentation, far removed from the constipated demureness that one usually meets in performances of this repertory.


Léonin’s ‘Propter veritatem’, too, is displayed with verve, though the singers cannot quite decide whether the composer did or did not intend his work to be sung in regular rhythm. But the climax comes in ‘Virgo flagellatur’ and ‘Beata viscera’; both of them profound works, and both probably by Pérotin whose musical genius still shines across the centuries. Anthony Pryer