Leonin, Perotin: Sacred Music from Notre-Dame Cathedral

Leonin, Perotin: Sacred Music from Notre-Dame Cathedral

by Tonus Peregrinus


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Tonus Peregrinus is a group of expert singers who come together once in awhile to attack a special project, this one being Léonin/Pérotin: Sacred Music from Notre-Dame Cathedral in Naxos' early music series. Any attempt to perform or record twelfth century polyphony requires some ingenuity in preparing a text that remains musical, yet makes liturgical sense: the well-known manuscript sources for polyphonic Notre Dame Repertoire do not contain the whole prescription for performance. Tonus Peregrinus, under the direction of Antony Pitts, weaves together related strands of monophonic chant, two- and four-part textures, and information gleaned from teaching manuals of the time to create a wholly satisfactory blend of what sources tell us about this temporally remote musical genre. Tonus Peregrinus emphasizes the importance of skilled solo singers in this literature by inaugurating the disc with an outstanding rendering of Perotin's monophonic conductus setting of "Beata viscera," sung magnificently by Rebecca Hickey. In these realizations, the solo voice is placed in the foreground, except in unison plainchant sections, and this approach applies to much of the disc, with an amazing exception in the realization of music from the Scolica enchiriadis. This ninth century manuscript, the oldest part-music in existence, doesn't contain any specific musical works, but it includes various recipes as to how to harmonize pre-existing monophonic chant sources. Tonus Peregrinus marries these principles to a setting of Psalm 115, "Non nobis domine," and in some places the voices seem to lift into the stratosphere -- it is a truly "heavenly effect" that has to be heard to be believed. In works by Léonin and Pérotin, the "Organum" travels at the same speed as the plainchant, a radically different approach from virtually all other choirs, which tend to perform the "Organum" at a faster clip as opposed to the chant. It makes a huge difference in the sound of the composition, and makes total sense in terms of realizing this style. There is no "right" way to perform "Notre Dame Organa." All recorded incarnations of this music have to be considered legitimate, at least until new information comes along that tends to disqualify some aspect of a given performance style. Nevertheless, the manifestation of the "Organa" in Leonin/Perotin: Sacred Music from Notre-Dame Cathedral is redolent with the atmosphere we know from the books, architecture, and painting of that distant time, and is one of the very best recorded options ever made for this music.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/19/2005
Label: Naxos
UPC: 0747313234028
catalogNumber: 8557340
Rank: 209376


  1. Beata viscera, conductus for solo voice
  2. Viderunt omnes, gradual in mode 5 (Liber Usualis, No. 409; GR. 33)
  3. Viderunt omnes, 2 part organum (attrib. to Leonin)
  4. Dominus, 2 part clausula/motet
  5. Viderunt omnes, organum for 4 voices: (4-part organum): Viderunt omnes...
  6. Viderunt omnes, organum for 4 voices: (plainchant): ... fines terre salutare dei nostri
  7. Viderunt omnes, organum for 4 voices: (4-part organum): Notum fecit...
  8. Viderunt omnes, organum for 4 voices: ...Dominus...
  9. Viderunt omnes, organum for 4 voices: ...salutare suum ante conspectum gentium revelavit
  10. Viderunt omnes, organum for 4 voices: (plainchant): ...justitiam suam
  11. Viderunt omnes, organum for 4 voices: (plainchant): Viderunt omnes fines terre salutare
  12. Non nobis Domine (Ps. 115/113b), organum (after 9th cent. Scolica enchiriadis)
  13. Sederunt principes, organum for 4 voices
  14. Vetus abit littera, 4-part conductus

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