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Johan van Veen
musica Dei donum, November 2016

In some pieces the voice needs to blend perfectly with the instruments, and that is especially the case in the sacred compositions, such as Heinrich Isaac’s Argentum et aurum which opens the programme. In the songs by Neidhart and Wolkenstein, on the other hand, the text has to be declaimed. These differences come out perfectly. It is admirable how Els Janssens-Vanmunster and Raitis Grigalis adapt their voices to the instruments. In the monodic songs they put the text in the centre and act like real story-tellers. Marc Lewon shows his own skills in this department in Neidhart’s Do man den gumpel gampel sank. The instrumentalists deliver outstanding contributions. This is a very interesting and compelling disc which comprises a number of little-known pieces and some recently discovered material. © 2016 musica Dei donum Read complete review

Goldberg Stiftung, October 2016

Once more Leones has brought out an excellent cd with music from a scientific project around early Renaissance music in Austria. The singing and playing is lively and lets us witness every day life in this era. © 2016 Goldberg Stiftung

Rebecca Tavener
Choir & Organ, September 2015

…grace, gorgeous variety and unaffected expressivity of the voices and instruments…here recorded with character, presence and élan. © 2015 Choir & Organ Read complete review

Manuel Ribeiro
Pizzicato, August 2015

The Ensemble Leones has a good concept and ensures also an excellent musical performance. © 2015 Pizzicato

Peter Loewen
American Record Guide, July 2015

The program is so imaginative, so astutely played and sung, that one is loathe to raise even one complaint. © 2015 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Brian Wilson
MusicWeb International, May 2015

Ensemble Leones made an earlier recording of the music of Neidhart for Naxos (8.572449).  There are no overlaps with Neidhart’s works on the new recording.  Both Byzantion—review and I—DL Roundup 2011/1—liked that earlier release.  As before, the present release combines detailed scholarship—all the source MSS are listed in the notes—with very enjoyable performances and the recording is very good.

Ensemble Leones have also made some fine recordings for other labels which I must try to catch up with, including a programme of the music of Oswald von Wolkenstein (Christophorus CHR77379).  The one work common to both that and the Naxos is performed as an instrumental piece on Christophorus, so the overlap is more apparent than real.  There’s also an album of Agricola on Christophorus (CHR77368) and Josquin on CHR77348.  All these can be downloaded from and streamed from Qobuz.  The von Wolkenstein download, like even the CD, does not contain the texts, but these are available online.  Marc Lewon also appears on a Naxos recording of music from the Glogauer Liederbuch which I liked, with small reservations (8.572576—DL News 2012/23), also on their recording of the Lochamer Liederbuch (8.557803—review and review).

First, however, I suggest that you start with the new recording before moving on to the earlier Neidhart CD and then the Christophorus albums.  At least the texts for the new Naxos CD, though not included in the booklet, can be found online. © 2015 MusicWeb International

Ettore Garzia
Percorsi Musicali, April 2015

Taking as inspiration the long persistence of the influential power of the Habsburgs, the musician and conductor of the Ensemble Leones, Marc Lewon, unfolds the full potential of musical research pertaining to the Germanic lands at the end of the medieval period.

Here the gold and silver presented on the cover do not refer at all to economic ownership, but they are rather representations of musical materials symbolically considered treasures: behind the structures of the songs and musical interludes created by Marc Lewon there is a patient work about the best deployment of those treasures, from a time when the German musical world had remained behind the rest of Europe, but was already building new foundations to attain a new leadership that would come on several fronts and in its heyday in the Baroque era. © 2015 Percorsi Musicali

Barry Brenesal
Fanfare, April 2015

It’s fair to say that it makes for an entertaining disc, with spillovers in interest from Wolkenstein (five selections) and Neidhart (three selections), who furnish material for two of their regular touring programs. In addition, 11 out of 28 cuts are identified as “world premieres.” […] As an interesting cross-section of Austrian music holdings through the later Renaissance, mostly away from the noble courts, this is great fun, in excellent performances. Generous timings, too. Recommended. © 2015 Fanfare

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, February 2015

What we get is a lovely snapshot of an era and a region in all its musical richness. In the end we sit back and let the music and its often melismatic beauty wash over us. And in the process we get music both earthy and sublime, in ever-varied juxtapositions.

The performances are perfectly haunting. I would not hesitate on this one. If you seek something you haven’t heard in the early music realm, this one gives it to you in the most moving of terms. © 2015 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review

D. James Ross
Early Music Review, February 2015

The singing by two solo voices is spirited and forthright and the accompaniments on a range of period stringed instruments, a Renaissance flute and a splendid cameo on a cow horn are sympathetic and atmospheric. It is encouraging to hear a CD devoted to music which has rarely been performed before (11 items are world premieres), resurrected from archives and realized by a team of committed and expert specialists, and more encouraging and informative. © 2015 Early Music Review

Goldberg Stiftung, February 2015

Once more Leones has brought out an excellent cd with music from a scientific project around early Renaissance music in Austria. The singing and playing is lively and lets us witness every day life in this era. © 2015 Goldberg Stiftung Read complete review

Medieval Music & Arts Foundation, January 2015

The notable aspect is the fine interpretive job that Leones do with such a broad range of repertory, both chronologically & stylistically: Very vivid, with contrasts. © 2015 Medieval Music & Arts Foundation Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2015

The wealth of music that emerged during the Habsburg dynasty, beginning at the midpoint of the Fourteenth century, is here celebrated in a mix of words and music. It included names that became famous, including Heinrich Isaac, Guillaume Dufay and the legendary minnesinger, Neidhart, but most are today of unknown origin, the disc being the result of an extensive research project conducted by the University of Vienna. Mainly given to accompanied songs, the 28 tracks do contain some instrumental pieces, though here we must take the performances at face value, as they would, at the time of composition, have been played on whatever instruments were available. For my part I would hasten to buy the disc for the voice of Els Janssens-Vanmunster, one of the most beautiful I have ever heard in this era of music, her account of Hail Mary, purest of virgins, is a track that I will place among my treasured possessions. The instruments played by the Ensemble Leones are all modern recreations, and make a pleasing sound, the recording retaining an ideal balance between voices and the ensemble. Many of the tracks are here placed on disc for the first time, the release being indispensable for your Early Music collection. © 2015 David’s Review Corner

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