Collection: Carmina Gallica

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COMPOSERS: Guerber
LABELS: Alpha
WORKS: Latin chansons of the 12th Century
PERFORMER: Ensemble Diabolus in Musica/Brice Duisit
CATALOGUE NO: 37

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Between the 11th and 13th centuries, the abbeys of the Loire Valley and the Cathedrals of Limoges and Paris produced a remarkable repertoire of love songs, laments and religious meditations – all of them in the ‘dead’ language of Latin, but with tremendous musical and poetic vitality. This selection is presented in an accomplished manner by experienced performers, and is acutely recorded. One of the earliest poems here is ‘Gloria si mundi’, a lament on the death of the Duke of Aquitaine in 1087.

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Its melody is lost, but Antoine Guerber has composed a very plausible substitute, dramatically rendered by the striking soprano voice of Aïno Lund-Lavoipierre. Instruments accompany the voices sparingly but tellingly, as in ‘Spoliatum flore’, where the varied, responsive rhythms of the baritone Jean-Paul Rigaud are mirrored perfectly in improvised style by the fiddle playing of Brice Duisit. Occasionally there are oddities, such as the alternating of male and female voices in ‘Iam dulcis’, which seems to be about the thoughts of a single person. The only real blemish, though, is that Guerber, who has done so much to bring this project to life, allows himself to sing solo on some tracks, out of tune and uncertain of voice. Anthony Pryer