Messe de Tournai, Moody

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COMPOSERS: Messe de Tournai,Moody
LABELS: ECM
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Words of the Angel
WORKS: Messe de Tournai; 14th-century polyphony; Moody: Words of the Angel
PERFORMER: Trio Mediaeval
CATALOGUE NO: 461 782-2
Trio Mediaeval was founded in Oslo in 1997 and this is its first commercial recording. It is a great success in spite of the rather worrying challenges the singers have set themselves – the choice of repertoire (mostly anonymous pieces in Latin with no translations provided), the obvious competition with another all-female early music group (Anonymous 4), and the refusal to provide any liturgical or social context (‘this is simply intended to be a musical experience’).

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In fact, there is a kind of pattern to the presentation, since the movements of the Tournai Mass are enframed by groups of motets and chant-like solos – which reveal the thorough individual musicality

upon which the group is based. As for comparisons, their sparkling, well-tuned performance of the Mass easily outshines the rather muddy drone through the piece by Marcel Pérès on Harmonia Mundi, and

their zestful but delicate rendering of ‘O ceteris preambulis’ puts the asthmatic and lugubrious version

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by Anonymous 4 (on its Lammas Ladymass album of 1998) firmly in the shade. Finally, Words of the Angel, by the contemporary composer Ivan Moody, provides a powerful and touching vehicle for this group, evincing a wonderful display of measured passion and technique. Anthony Pryer