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David Fallows
Early Music, August 2015

There must be many readers whose first real entry to the music of the 15th century was, like my own, through the Glogauer Liederbuch, that astonishing set of three partbooks copied around 1480 somewhere near the present Polish-German border and containing almost 300 individual pieces. Much of the music is French or even English in origin, but the main body of the repertory must be German, showing an astonishing variety of style. By contrast with most other Germanic music manuscripts of the time, it is both elegantly written and broadly accurate in its musical readings. So it is a fascinating and highly important document.

Surprisingly, though, there seems to have been hitherto no CD based on its music, so two new issues are all the more welcome. The Ensemble Dulce Melos, led by Marc Lewon with the immaculately controlled voices of Sabine Lutzenberger and Martin Hummel, take a surprisingly cool approach in Das Glogauer Liederbuch (Naxos 8.572576, rec 2010, 78’). Not for them the crumhorn-heavy bouncy approach of many other ensembles or the mind-dizzying tempos for the cross-rhythms; their sound is based around the lute and the dulce melos, with other gentle instruments; and they focus on the intrinsic virtues of the music. They also group the 41 short pieces on the disc into 20 ‘suites,’ several of which comprise various different settings of the same melody. The liner notes by Reinhard Strohm guide us authoritatively through these suites, which are heavily weighted towards the German-language contents of the manuscripts.

[…] I note that the name of Marc Lewon has turned up many times in these remarks; […] But in the present state of things it would be very hard to survey the subject without giving him prominence; © 2015 Early Music

J. F. Weber
Fanfare, July 2013

The two singers, both as soloists and in duet, are pleasant and the five players of the ensemble, including Marc Lewon, apparently first among equals, use modern copies of period instruments. The playing is restrained, the program flowing easily from instrumental to vocal pieces. © Fanfare

Karen Cook
Early Music America, June 2013

[...] Ensemble Dulce Melos specializes in resurrecting rare and extinct instruments, such as the dulcemelos, hackbrett, and chekker. In addition to having two fine vocalists, the ensemble also performs on recorders and numerous plucked and bowed strings. While each set of works is held together by some common element, the orchestration differs from song to song. As a result, the recording is delightfully diverse, providing a kaleidoscope of warm and intimate timbres.

The voices and instruments are nicely balanced and well suited to the material, and the orchestrations show sensitivity to the texts and the compositional structures of the music. Particular highlights are the multiple settings of “O Rosa Bella,” especially those that have quodlibet texts and that feature the hackbrett, the set of songs “Es solt ein man,” “Rom peltier,” and “All voll,” and the selections featuring the dulcemelos, especially the concluding pieces.

The liner notes offer a thorough but succinct context for the Liederbuch, as well as thoughts on individual pieces and sets. Texts and translations are not included, but fortunately those are available on the Naxos website. All in all, this is a great new release by Ensemble Dulce Melos and a fantastic addition to the collections of anyone interested in 15th-century song. © Early Music America

David Vernier, December 2012

…you’re treated to a soprano (Sabine Lutzenberger) and baritone (Martin Hummel) with voices as attractive and well-suited to this music as we could hope for, and a lutenist (Marc Lewon) who is both master of instrument and of the genre, in this case 15th-century songs. And the instrumental group Ensemble Dulce Melos is superb, both in its accompanying role and in the several tracks where it plays by itself, without voices.

…listen and be charmed by the instantly ingratiating songs…all presented in a smartly organized program…There are no gimmicks here, just honest, straightforward interpretations of the songs—and happily, these are voices that you can listen to with ongoing pleasure…if you’re willing to be pleasantly surprised, then you shouldn’t hesitate to try this exceptional and very satisfying release. © 2012 Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, December 2012

Das Glogauer Liederbuch (The Glogau Song Book) is a collection [of] 292 pieces of music known to have been gathered together in Lower Silesia in the 15th century. Probably used by monks for both devotional and recreational purposes, it appears to have been written for either vocal and instrumental use. Found without a name, it was a handwritten note in the manuscript—obviously added sometime later—that describes the cathedral at Glogau, the document subsequently becoming known by that name after it’s discovered in 1874. At the end of the Second World War the volume had again disappeared only to resurface in 1977 in Krakow, Poland, where it is now in safe keeping. The present disc contains thirty-six pieces together with another five from documents of the same era. All are short, some lasting just a few seconds, their original source unknown, but they also include pieces described as ‘tails’ and which were probably dances. I guess the present elegant performances don’t have much relation to the quality they could have enjoyed in the 15th century, and would not have contained the female voice included here. But that probably is true of most of the Early Music recreations we hear today, and we must accept that they are for modern day enjoyment. The playing on period instruments is very pleasing, the vocal production is excellent, and the engineers have created the most delightful sounds. Among discs of the genre it is most welcome. © 2012 David’s Review Corner

Brian Wilson - Download News 2012/22
MusicWeb International, December 2012

The music is instantly likeable. The performances by Sabine Lutzenberger (soprano), Martin Hummel (baritone), Marc Lewon (lute) and Ensemble Dulce Melos were recorded in August 2010. They do justice to the music…The recording…is good. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Dick Hoban
Lute Society of America Quarterly, December 2012

Dulce Melo’s varied instrumentation support two very skilful vocalists, baritone Martin Hummel and soprano Sabine Lutzenberger, who individually perform on about half of the selections. The few occasions where they perform together are among the best tracks on the disc. The other tracks are all instrumental arrangements with a near constant varying of the instruments available to these highly skilled performers. The sounds of recorders, a dulcemelos, the viola da gamba and viola d’arco, a lute, and a gittern are blended together in enchanting combinations.

…[Ensemble Dulce Melos’s] director, Marc Lewon…has a keen understanding of how to bring life to this period’s music; at no time do I find the recording ordinary or redundant. The variety of the instrumentation, combined with expressiveness of these two seasoned vocal performers, yields a CD of charming diversity and emotion. If you are at all interested in early instrumental polyphony, I would mark this disc down as one to get… © 2012 Lute Society of America Quarterly

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