CHANT WARS: Sequentia and Dialogos – Deutsche Harmonia Mundi

by | Oct 20, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

CHANT WARS: Sequentia and Dialogos – Deutsche Harmonia Mundi Multichannel SACD 82876-66649-2 ****:

Funded by research grants from Harvard University, this fascinating
cultural document joins together two leading vocal ensembles, Benjamin
Bagby’s Sequentia and Katarina Livljanic’s Dialogos, to provide the
musical context for Charlemagne’s desire to halt the decline of
liturgical singing by returning it to the purity of “the original
source:” the chant of Rome. In re-enacting the legendary confrontation
between the cantors of the Carolingean emperors and the various
regional chant traditions they sought to replace, layer upon layer of
beauty and stylistic nuance are clearly laid out without losing
eloquence or passion. A lament on the death of Charlemagne, who died in
814, is particularly memorable.

Recorded in the great refectory of the Abbey of Fontevraud in the lower
Loire valley, where, among others, the tombs of Eleanor of Aquitaine
and her husband, King Henry II of England lie, the sound is spacious
and clear without being artificially resonant (but definitely benefits
from being played on a multichannel SACD player). Katarina Livljanic’s
booklet notes are highly sophisticated yet so clearly written that even
the non-technical minded reader will be able to follow them.

– Laurence Vittes


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