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29.3.04

Middle Ages Crisis

From some of my recent posts, regular readers may have trouble keeping all of the arts festival celebrations in France this year (Springtime for Poets, Year of George Sand, Year of Salvador Dalí, to name a few). It also appears that there is some sort of theme related to the Middle Ages this year, as I learned from an article (Divines et terrestres, les musiques médiévales à La Villette, March 26) in Le Monde by Marie-Aude Roux. The subject is a new exhibit (Moyen Age, entre ordre et désordre, through June 27) at the Cité de la musique, in partnership with the Louvre: it covers 700 years of art and music, from the 9th to 15th centuries:

bringing together artworks from all over Europe, including manuscripts, illuminations, engravings, ivory pieces, including some treasures well known to fans of medieval melody like the Montpellier Codex, the Roman de Fauvel, and Guillaume de Machaut's Remède de Fortune. A feast for the eyes does not rule out the ears also being charmed: listening stations will allow you to pass from the abbess Hildegard of Bingen's chants to the polyphonic complexity of Guillaume Dufay, from liturgies to parodies, without even mentioning courtly love, which extols the inaccessible Lady, "gracious, good, and beautiful."
There is also a cycle of 14 concerts by medieval music ensembles, performing programs focused on spiritual music (March 26 to April 4) and on more worldly music (April 13 to 18). Remaining concerts include the Ensemble Faenza's performance of the Remède de Fortune on Tuesday night, a program called The City of Paris in the time of St. Louis by Discantus and Alla Francesca on Wednesday night, and Ensemble Gilles Binchois performing Machaut's Messe de Nostre Dame on Friday night. In the second part, a group called Obsidienne will present Feast of Fools, Feast of the Donkey (April 13) and Joel Cohen's Boston Camerata will perform the Roman de Fauvel (April 14).

Other performances will include chants and dances from the Abbey of Monserrat (Ensemble Micrologus), early polyphony by Perotin and from Perugia (Huelgas Ensemble), harp music with singers (Sequentia), Chrétien de Troyes and the Conte du Graal (Diabolus in Musica), courtly lyric and music from Spain (Troubadours Art Ensemble), Holy Week in Jerusalem (Discantus), the Banquet du vœu of Philippe le Bon (Ensemble Gilles Binchois), Muslim, Jewish, and Christian music during the reign of Alfonso el Sabio (Hesperion XXI), and the poetry of Osama Ibn Al-Mounqidh (Ensemble Al-Kindî).

At the same time, there are the following related exhibits: Paris 1400: Les arts sous Charles VI (in English here; at the Louvre until July 12); Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry: l'enluminure en France au début du XVe siècle (from March 31 to August 2, at the Château de Chantilly and Musée Condé); Louis d'Orléans et Valentine Visconti: Mécénat et politque autour de 1400 (from June to September at the Château de Blois); L'art à la cour de Bourgogne: le mécénat de Philippe Le Hardi et de Jean sans Peur (from May 28 to September 13, at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon); and Une fondation disparue de Jean de Berry: La Sainte-Chapelle de Bourges (late June to August 29, at the Salle du duc Jean in Bourges).

If it didn't mean losing my job and irritating my family, I would be on the plane to Paris tonight.

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