Polyphonies Oubliées, Ensemble Gilles Binchois, Maîtrise de Toulouse, D. Vellard
(released on January 13, 2015)
Aparte AP097 | 107'16"
[Listen on YouTube]
The texts featured are generally longer ones — the Ordinary of the Mass, psalms, canticles like the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, litanies, and hymns — and the settings often alternate between the chant alone and the polyphonic version. This underscores the free rhythm often implied in this kind of music, flexible and flowing like the chant it ornaments. Gregorio Allegri's setting of the Miserere is a famous, exceptionally ornamented version, flowing back and forth between chant-like declamation and metered rhythm. It takes some getting used to, but a choir, especially a small one, can learn to sing such polyphonic formulas in a beautifully unified way, shown in related traditions descended from the practice in the Orthodox and Anglican churches. The music selected here is mostly by unknown composers, with some examples from Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Claudin de Sermisy, Jean de Bournonville, François-Louis Perne, and Aloys Kunc -- the last was choir master at the Cathedral of Toulouse in the late 19th century, a nice connection. Saori Sato on organ and Bernard Fourtet on serpent (!) provide occasional instrumental support.