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Howard Kadis
Lute Society of America Quarterly, October 2017

The performers are obviously conversant with the musical and technical demands of this literature, and the results are consistently engaging. The three singers convey the texts and the musical lines with extraordinary clarity, precise ensemble, and scrupulous intonation. The performances are imbued with infectious energy which has the effect of holding the listener’s attention throughout. The Consort of Musicke assayed the Chansonnier Cordiforme in its entirety back in the late 1970s (a 3-CD set of this is still available), and though I haven’t heard that recording in a number of years, my recollection is that it was a much more academic exercise than the present CD, whose main object, by virtue of its judicious selection of songs, is to make the music engaging and accessible. In this Mr. Lewon’s ensemble has succeeded admirably, with some help, of course, from the recording engineer and the resonant church of Binningen, Switzerland where the recording took place […] © 2017 Lute Society of America Quarterly



Barry Brenesal
Fanfare, July 2017

The performances display the sensitivity to balance, clarity, and linear movement that I’ve noted in past recordings by Marc Lewon’s Ensemble Leones. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review



John W Barker
American Record Guide, March 2017

The performing group here is three singers and three instrumentalists. The singing is particularly tasteful and stylish, and these are very good performances, well recorded. © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide



Steve Arloff
MusicWeb International, January 2017

Any rendition of music from so long ago will always give rise to discussion and no amount of research appears to be able to provide definitive answers to exactly how it was played or sung and which and how many instruments were involved where they were included in performance. What is without doubt is that this is a remarkable and exciting disc. It helps give us an insight into what our ancestors in the 15th century were listening to. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Medieval Music & Arts Foundation, October 2016

Marc Lewon and associates continue to make a welcome assault on the vast lacuna of late fifteenth century and early sixteenth century secular music on recording, this time with Straight from the Heart from the Chansonnier Cordiforme. …[This] new program is much shorter, but well chosen so as to illustrate a variety of genres from the manuscript, as well as a variety of performance styles that have been or can be used in this repertory. …Although not all of the interpretive styles are exactly to my taste, the variety is welcome, and the result is an immediately compelling album that is not only enjoyable for us long-time participants in this project, but would seem to make a great introduction too. © 2016 Medieval Music & Arts Foundation Read complete review




Guy Engels
Pizzicato, October 2016

Once more, Marc Lewon and his Ensemble Leones invite the listener to discover a forgotten repertoire. Their commitment and the musical quality of the recording make this a most valuable CD. © 2016 Pizzicato



D. James Ross
Early Music Review, October 2016

The performers sensibly take a pragmatic approach to the heated debate as to precisely how these pieces were performed and use a mixture of voices and instruments, with occasional a cappella renditions. …I loved these accounts, which are both musically expressive and eloquent in an unhurried way. …Binningen provides just the right resonance for full enjoyment of this lovely music. © 2016 Early Music Review Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, October 2016

There is very little that can be found other than hugely derogative words to describe the Bishop of Agen, Jean de Montchenu, apart from his very good taste for music. It was at his behest that a group of chansons were copied around 1475 into a heart-shaped songbook whose visual beauty, as much as its content, has ensured it has passed down through time perfectly preserved. It contained works by famous names such Gilles Binchois, Johannes Ockeghem and Guillaume Dufay, but most have no known source. They speak of love, both in terms of endearment and trouble, the words largely in French, but also in Italian and Spanish, the disc’s accompanying booklet making clear that we have little idea of performing practice at the time. Whether they would have been offered  with instrumental accompaniment is doubtful, and in all probability they were for voices. The Swiss-based group, Ensemble Leones—comprising three voices and two instrumentalists—have chosen nineteen of the works contained in the document, and have given the disc its title ‘Straight from the Heart’. Within the excellent performances I would particularly select the entire group in the anonymous Ben lo sa Dio se sum vergine e pura, together with Els Janssens Vanmunster solo in the disc’s most extensive work, Parla mya cara, o dolce amore, the pity being that we do not know the creator of this hauntingly beautiful music. Recorded in a Swiss church, I would have welcomed more air around the sound with the performers a little further from the microphone, but it is a most welcome release in Naxos’s Early Music series. © 2016 David’s Review Corner



Goldberg Stiftung, October 2016

This is a very fine new recording of some of the chansons of the richest and most luxurious chansonnier of the 15th century. The rendering is exemplary. Very varied versions from a capella to instrumental versions with ornamentation, as it should always be done. The singing is lively, rhetorical and mostly in the right tempo, free from false melancholy. Especially pleasing are the viols of Richard Earl which our foundation will also use for our Busnois project. © 2016 Goldberg Stiftung Read complete review





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