WORKS: Feast of Fools: First Vespers; Mass of the Asses, Drunkards and Gambler etc
PERFORMER: New London Consort/Philip Pickett
CATALOGUE NO: 433 194-2 DDD
This disc will give enormous pleasure to the listener whether familiar or not with the wiles of medieval music. Philip Pickett has, with remarkable skill, selected from various manuscripts some of the most captivating examples of music associated with the medieval Feast of Fools.
The feast was a celebration held some time between Christmas and Epiphany, but particularly on New Year’s Day, the Feast of the Circumcision. The feast provided the clergy with an excuse to let their hair down, with a show of mock disrespect to the Church: singing lascivious songs, dressing up as women, eating sausage at the altar, and generally behaving in a totally unacceptable manner.
In 75 minutes of music, Pickett and his superb ensemble of singers and performers of assorted medieval instruments magnificently catch the high jinks and vitality of this medieval ritual, demonstrating – particularly in the outrageous Mass of the Asses, Drunkards and Gamblers, where mercy is solemnly sought from an ass (with appropriate braying…) – why the Church repeatedly tried to curtail this feast.
The care and dedication put into the performance is handsomely rewarded with excellent recorded sound. Annette Morreau