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Female vocal and instrumental ensemble VocaMe explores sacred music from the great cathedral-building age in Cathedrals. Their deep mezzo-sopranos allow for effective transpositions of polyphony originally sung by men, including the Messe de Tournai, and a glowing sound quality informs voices that feel very close within spacious, vibrant acoustics. Their programme includes a conductus from Codex Las Huelgas, which also pops up in an entire disc dedicated to that rich manuscript from Ensemble Gilles Binchois: Fons luminis. With a more detached quality, and most elegant and technically impressive singing in radiant recorded sound, the performers offer fascinating and welcome new scholarship concerning the occasional liturgical combination of male and female singers. A century later, in secular society, Machaut was spinning webs of melody in love songs of sublime refinement. The Orlando Consort continue their outstanding survey of his work The Gentle Physician, mustering all their usual commitment to the fine detail of text and ensemble. Stamina is also a regular requirement, here exemplified by the more than 23 minutes-long tour de force, the ‘Lay de confort’.

REBECCA TAVENER Read the full review on Agora Classica

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