The Lion of Nobility CDA68318

Recording details: March 2019
Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Loughton, Essex, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: January 2021

The eighth in our series takes its name from En demantant et lamentant, a lament. The poetic speaker, the composer himself, announces his intention to write a lai and set it to music in order to express his grief for the capture of a great leader, a ‘lion of nobility … and flower of Christendom’., believed to be King John II of France. It was almost certainly composed after the Battle of Poitiers in 1356, at which King John was taken prisoner. The album includes the famous Ma fin est mon commencement, a doubled palindrome, one of the parts of which appears upside down in the manuscript, amplifying the image of a mirror.


The famous rondeau Ma fin est mon commencement (‘My end is my beginning’) is especially pleasing in this thoughtful, clear performance. The Orlando Consort bear Machaut’s virtuoso writing lightly and keep the text clearly in the foreground … also of note is the solo-voice ballade Dame, se vous m’estes lonteinne (‘Lady, if you are distant from me’), with its familiar theme of unobtainable longing offering a moving moment of repose, beautifully sung by Matthew Venner, whose mellow countertenor tone infuses this album with warmth. Another wonderful and fascinating instalment in this impressive series’ (Gramophone)

‘Guillaume de Machaut (c1300-77) took special care for the preservation of his output, having his collected works copied into a series of lavish presentation manuscripts—the vocal contents of which the Orlando Consort have been steadily recording for Hyperion since 2012 … most exciting is the final motet Tant doucement m’ont attrait in which, over a slow bass line, the top parts challenge and dodge one another at the double’ (BBC Music Magazine)» More

‘A confident exploration of Machaut’s gently beautiful and restrained world … the Orlando Consort’s freshness, enthusiasm and colourful precision make it a truly distinguished collection. It’s hard to think that anyone new to such repertoire will not be impressed by the clarity and force of these singers … a persuasive introduction to Machaut’ (MusicWeb International)» More

‘Performances of Machaut which are as good as any of us might ever have expected to encounter’ (MusicWeb International)» More

‘I doubt if any other group will ever excel this performance … an essential purchase for the admirers of Machaut’s music, and … a good place for beginners to get to know it’ (MusicWeb International)

‘The result is, by turns, delightful and absorbing. A monophonic ballade such as 'Dame, se vous m’estes lonteinne' (Lady, even though you are far away from me) is so tuneful that I found myself beginning to hum along when it was only halfway done. It helps that significant stretches of the melody get repeated, consistent with the structure of the ballade and other 'fixed' poetic forms of Machaut’s time. The countertenor, Matthew Venner, has a lovely smooth sound, and it helps that the two tenors have highly contrasting vocal qualities, enabling one to pick out the different melodic lines with ease … a fascinating trip through 14th-century France’ (The Arts Fuse, USA)

‘A fine choice for Machaut newcomers and enthusiasts alike; it brings Machaut's music alive’ (AllMusic, USA)

„Es macht Freude, in diese ferne Welt einzutauchen, weil sie das Orlando Consort ganz nah an uns ranholt: ausdrucksvoll, präzise, voller Intensität. Man mag einwenden, dass die rein vokale Interpretation nur eine Facette der vielfältigeren historischen Realität abbildet, in der wohl auch Instrumente eine Rolle spielten. Aber farbig ist diese Aufnahme dennoch: im steten Wechsel zwischen ein-, zwei- und dreistimmigen Stücken, aber auch in den individuellen Timbres der Sänger, die sich klar voneinander abheben und mal dem einen, mal dem anderen den Vortritt lassen. Jede Interpretation ist klug durchdacht, jede offene Frage plausibel gelöst, basierend auf einer nagelneuen wissenschaftlichen Notenausgabe. So lässt uns diese kraftvolle, schnörkellose, nuancenreiche Aufnahme tief eintauchen in Machaut kunstvolle Gegenwelt, die die Nöte der Zeit vergessen lässt“ (BR Klassik, Germany)

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What am I listening to?

You are listening to a commemorative motet, ‘Quis dabit capiti meo aquam’, by the composer, Heinrich Isaac (c1450-1517). Specifically, you will hear the last of the four sections of this beautiful piece, a lament on the death of Lorenzo de’ Medici in April 1492. It is one track from our latest disk, The Florentine Renaissance, produced by Hyperion records (DA68349), a rich and varied selection of secular and sacred music, an aural collage of the vibrant city of Florence in the early Renaissance.