The Music of the Gothic Era

The following may be of interest.

Sound Recording Reviews

Rick. Anderson

From: Notes

Volume 59, Number 4, June 2003

pp. 963-968 | 10.1353/not.2003.0048

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Notes 59.4 (2003) 963-968 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (2003) 963-968 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting
For information about the scope of this column, consult the headnote in the September 2002 issue (p. 136 of this volume).

Music of the Gothic Era. Early Music Consort of London/David Munrow. Archiv 471 731-2, 2002.
The historical significance of this recording renders it, in some ways, impervious to criticism—love it or hate it, every library needs to own a copy. At the time of its original release in 1976, Music of the Gothic Era was met with both lavish praise and cranky denigration, with some justification on both sides. Yes, the singers were of the highest caliber and their energy and skill combined to create what was probably the single most influential recording of early vocal music up to that point, one which remains a landmark in the history of classical music more than a quarter of a century later. On the other hand, yes, David Munrow's use of instrumental accompaniment was idiosyncratic and at times intrusive. What is inarguable is the freshness and excitement that Munrow brought to what could otherwise have been a heavy-handed recital of what was, at the time, an obscure repertoire. The group's rendition of Pérotin's Viderunt omnes, in particular, remains breathtaking, and while one might argue with the inclusion of a frame drum (however quiet and tasteful) in a performance of a fourteenth-century motet or with the inclusion of those annoying bells on Léonin's Gaude Maria, there is simply no denying the impact of the performances overall. Also noteworthy in the case of the present issue is the remarkably fine job done by Archiv's engineers in remastering the original recordings, which hardly sound dated at all. A single-disc extract of the original boxed set was released on compact disc in 1985 (Archiv 415 292-2) and the entire program was then issued on compact disc in 1997 (Archiv 453 185-2). This new issue comes as part of Archiv's very welcome budget-line Archiv Blue reissue series, which also includes long-deleted releases by such eminent performers and ensembles as Musica Antiqua Köln, the English Concert, and the Gabrieli Consort and Players. Any library that has yet to replace its vinyl version of Music of the Gothic Era or that has made do until now with the one-disc extract should immediately upgrade to this new version, though those that own the previous complete compact disc reissue will have no particular reason to replace it with this one.



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