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Highly contrasted soundworlds, equally persuasive, characterise two Machaut recordings. The Orlando Consort offers exquisite singing of utmost refinement in works for one, two, three and four voices. Vocalists working together so constantly and closely are able to create seemingly seamless interpretations for Guillaume de Machaut – A Burning Heart, celebrating courtly love, including the fabulously dissonant Pas de tor en theis pais. Pellucid recorded sound adorns performances of unadulterated beauty but, compared to the following CD and in spite of their impeccable medieval French, they sound buttoned up and British. Graindelevoix explore the sacred in Guillaume de Machaut: Messe de Nostre Dame with portamento and vocal twists and turns, shocking with visceral, stone-ground sonorities in exciting, idiosyncratic, dangerous, Marmite interpretations. Their low-pitched performances, buzzing like a hive of holy bees intoxicated with spiritual nectar, present a liturgical reconstruction recorded quite closely in massive acoustics, enhancing the impression of Romanesque structure as they evoke the unknowable expanses of the distant past with ‘in your face’ chutzpah.

REBECCA TAVENER Read the full review on Agora Classica

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