- Se quanque amours, ballade for 4 voices
Guillaume de Machaut was one of the most influential composers of the 14th century, and his secular love songs were as significant as his sacred masterpiece, the "Messe de Nostre Dame." The Orlando Consort began its survey of Machaut's music with the 2013 album, Songs from Le Voir Dit, which was followed by The Dart of Love in 2015, and A Burning Heart in 2016, thus making Sovereign Beauty, their 2017 release on Hyperion, the fourth installment in this impressive series. This CD is a collection of Machaut's settings of his own chivalric poems about idealized beauty, in the forms of the unaccompanied virelai and the contrapuntal motet, ballade, and rondeau, which were influential in the development of the Ars nova in the court music of France and Burgundy. Machaut's interlocking part writing is smoothly rendered by countertenor Matthew Venner, tenors Mark Dobell and Angus Smith, and baritone Donald Greig, who have mastered the rhythmic complexities and harmonic tensions between the lines to convey the proper lyrical expression with practiced ease and proper intonation. Hyperion's recording in the church of St. John the Baptist, Loughton, Essex captures the singers with clarity and a feeling of closeness, though the acoustics lend some spatial depth to the group.