The Mirror Of Narcissus - Songs Of Machaut / Kirkb

Album cover art
Label: Hyperion
Catalog: CDA66087
Format: CD

Emma Kirkby, Gothic Voices, Christopher Page

The second Gothic Voices recording was something of a milestone: the first recording of 14-century music performed by voices alone. The absence of instruments permits very precise tuning (no small matter in this repertory) and doesn't obscure Machaut's poetry (which was admired by no less than Geoffrey Chaucer). Belying its scholarly-but-dull reputation, Gothic Voices sings with plenty of energy and rhythmic snap; the monophonic songs, performed by a single unaccompanied voice, come off particularly well. The best example of this disc's achievement is the famous "Douce dame jolie," which has been done as everything from a catchy little ditty to a fife-and-drum march: Margaret Philpot performs it as what it is--the forlorn plea of a spurned lover. --Matthew Westphal

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