Gothic Voices - The Dufay Spectacle - All Music
Guillaume Dufay was a major Burgundian court composer of the early Renaissance, and he was renowned across Europe for his sacred choral works and secular songs. To give an impression of the various forms and styles he employed, and to show how his contemporaries likely heard his music, Gothic Voices has arranged an attractive program of motets and chansons, divided into four sections that suggest a performance at an imaginary wedding banquet: The Welcome, A Reflection, Solemn Celebration, and Playful Celebration. This provides a helpful context to pieces that are rather enigmatic-sounding to modern ears, and reveals something of the immediacy of Dufay's music, which was amongst the most influential and pervasive in the 15th century. Gothic Voices consists of four to five singers and four instrumentalists, and the singing has a sense of proximity that emphasizes expressiveness over the more cerebral aspects of Dufay's counterpoint. The instruments include a vihuela d'arco, a fiddle, an organ, a regal, a bray harp, a psaltery, a dulcian, a shawm, and a sackbut, providing a surprising range of sonorities in the accompaniment yet never overwhelming the small vocal ensemble. Linn's superb sound also contributes to the intimacy of the album, which was recorded without excessive reverberation in Boxgrove Priory, West Sussex. Highly recommended.