Machaut: Les motets (complete)
LABELS: Zig Zag-Territoires
ALBUM TITLE: Machaut: motets
WORKS: Les motets (complete)
PERFORMER: Anne Quentin (soprano), Christel Boiron, Caroline Maggalhães (mezzo), Lucien Kandel, Thierry Peteau (tenor); Gwénaël Bihan (flute), Marion Fourquier (harp), Lucas Guimarães Peres, Martin Bauer (viele), Patrick Bernatene (percussion)
CATALOGUE NO: ZZT 021002
This, the only available complete recording of the motets of Guillaume de Machaut (c1300-1377), arose from the desire of the vocal ensemble Musica Nova and the instrumental group Zig-Zag Territoires to work together. This might have been a good idea, but here it has led to an over-zealous attempt to incorporate musical instruments almost everywhere – extrapolating single vocal lines from the works and singing them with string and woodwind accompaniments, or even plastering over these intricate courtly motets with percussion.
Sometimes, though, the effects can be oddly atmospheric (as in Por coi/Se j’aim), and occasionally voices and instruments are nicely held in balance (as in Vidi/Faus Samblant). It does mean, however, that some otherwise unrecorded works, such as De ma dolour/Maugré mon cuer, never appear in their proper vocal guise. The singing varies from lively (Fera/O livoris) to reflective (Fiat voluntas), but the phrasing is sometimes flat-footed and the performers do not know how to relish a harmonic clash. For better accounts of most of these works try the almost complete recording by the Hilliard Ensemble on ECM (reviewed June 2004) or the superb performances by The Clerks’ Group on Signum (reviewed July 1999). Anthony Pryer