“Music for the 100 Years’ War” = The Binchois Consort / Andrew Kirkman (cond.) – Hyperion Records

“Music for the 100 Years’ War” = The Binchois Consort, Andrew Kirkman (conductor) – Hyperion Records  CD A68170, 76:25 (3/31/17) ****

A lovely disc brings the music of the 15th century alive

A fascinating theme for a CD,  with music of predominantly royal association spanning the reign of Henry V, the Battle of Agincourt and its aftermath, and the coronations in England and France of the boy king Henry VI.

Probably the best known works on the disc are the works of John Dunstaple (1390-1453), one of the most interesting and influential of 15th century composers. He was a true renaissance man, with interests in astronomy, mathematics and medicine.

Many of the other works are anonymous, and a few other composers of the period are represented.

The performances by this small ensemble, The Binchois Consort under Andrew Kirkman are fine performers and brings this music vividly alive.

The recording is realistic without being too finely etched. The voices emerge from the lovely  acoustics of the Ascot Priory in Berkshire, England, blending nicely so that we get a sense of space but without close microphone positions that would destroy the ambiance.

A word about the booklet that comes with the disc. It’s noteworthy for its depth, and lovely illustrations of alabaster art from the period, as well as the text of all the songs performed. It’s an extra effort on the part of Hyperion that adds immensely to the quality of the experience.

I can see this disc being enjoyed by more than just medieval music aficionados. It has cross-over potential to be enjoyed by regular classical music lovers, and I think will be listened to often.

Highly recommended.

Track list:

1 Anglia tibi turbidas ANON [5’44]
2 Sub Arturo plebs ALANUS (fl late 14th century) [4’03]
3 Ascendit Christus super celos  FOREST (fl 1400–1450) [5’00]
4 Preco preheminencie DUNSTAPLE (c1390–1453) [5’45]
5 Ianuam quam clauserat ANON [1’43]
6 Gloria ‘Ad Thome memoriam’ POWER (d1445) [3’49]
7 Pastor cesus in gregis medio CHANT [1’08]
8 Opem nobis, o Thoma ANON [0’40]
9 Credo ‘Opem nobis, o Thoma’ POWER [4’33]
10 De flore martyrum ANON [1’45]
11 Ave miles ANON [1’47]
12 Gaude martyr FOREST [4’11]
13 Ecce mitto angelum CHANT [3’04]

Missa Da gaudiorum premia DUNSTAPLE [18’40]
14 Kyrie rex genitor [6’52]
15 Credo [5’04]
16 Sanctus [6’44]

17 Veni Sancte Spiritus DUNSTAPLE [5’16]
18 The Agincourt Carol ANON [3’42]
19 Kyrie … Domine miserere – Ab inimicis nostris ANON [5’35]

—Mel Martin

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