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Penguin Guide, January 2009

We are always fascinated by the richness of Leonin’s two-part organa duplum, in which the plainchant melody is slow and the second part provides a more elaborate solo line (organum purum), or with the two parts moving together sonorously in an identical rhythm. Here, both male and female voices are used to vary the colour, and there is nothing dull whatsoever about the result; indeed, the bare consecutive intervals are magnetic. The rhythm is conjectural, as there was no way of noting it down in the 12th century. But the presentation of the vivid closing section here (Factum est salutare…Dominus) anticipates the motet of the future. Also included is an earlier, simpler parallel organum, taken from the ninth-century treatise, ‘Scolica euchiriadis’, setting the Psalm, Non nobis Domine, which is equally magnetic, ending evocatively with the tolling cathedral bell. The singing of Tonus Peregrinus directed by Antony Pitts is resonantly convincing, as is the acoustic of the Abbaye de Chancelade. The superb documentation includes full texts and photographs of the original manuscripts. Coupled with the more complex organa of Perotin, this disc is an amazing bargain.

Penguin Guide, January 2009

The Naxos disc opens with a monophonic conductus, freely flowing and soaring, which reminds one of the music of Hildegard. But later in the collection we are offered Viderunt omnes as a four-part organum for male voices, a darkly powerful setting. Later, Sederunt principes brings in a female voices over a drone effect; to conclude the disc, we are offered a four-part conductus for mixed voices, joyfully rhythmic in the way of a dance. The performances are first rate and the echoing acoustic is just right. If you have never heard organum with its bare intervals (octave, fourths and fifths), you will find this disc aurally fascinating.

Fanfare, November 2005

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