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Rebecca Tavener rounds up the latest releases This is a bit of a mixed bag as planned recordings and CD releases reel under the pressure of these distracted times. Finding connections and themes is a luxury that may not be indulged, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some great stuffwaiting for comment, beginning with a shout-out for the influential medieval Ensemble Gilles Binchois, celebrating its 40th year with a two-disc anthology of some of their finest recorded performances called, appropriately, Voix du Ciel. Excellent both as tribute to a pioneering group and potential introduction to medieval vocal music, from monody through to the earliest polyphonic Mass settings, here’s an adventure in extraordinary sonorities and interpretations, showcasing a magnificent achievement and promising more to come. There’s a teasing bonus track from Ockeghem’s Requiem which invites me to move straight along to his secular music: Johannes Ockeghem: Complete Songs vol.1 finds 12 voices of the American group Blue Heron, more often heard in choral works, as solo consort singers in various combos. Here are exquisitely elegant interpretations, enhanced by a beautifully clear and balanced recording, in translucent acoustics. Much research has resulted in new editions by director Scott Metcalfe, and the tasteful involvement of instruments such as vielle and harp, plus the attention paid to underlay, word-stress and pronunciation, make this an outstanding effort. Excellent liner notes accompany a CD so well-filled that it jumped about on every player except the TV, but maybe only the review copy was thus contrary.

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