Performers: Denis Galvier (recorders, alto saxophone, voice), Norbert Bouche (violin, synthesizer), Ismaël Robert (electric guitar), Alexis Palazzotto (accordion, tubular bells), Jean-Michel Bossini (keyboards), Laurent d'Asfeld (percussion), Franck Smith (drums, voice, triangle)
Playing time: 39'
Recording date: September 1994
The idea of this recording is to gather a group of modern musicians on various instruments as well as voices and to freely interpret a modern transcription of Machaut's Messe de Notre Dame. It is described as an "archeological" reading, and basically attempts to recreate some of the freedom of interpretation which medieval musicians apparently enjoyed. In that sense, it is inspired both by Machaut's notes, and the sort of diminution, ornamentation or arrangements which musicians in this era may have done. By that it is not meant the precise style of the medieval era, but the freedom to improvise according to what one knows. In the present case, that ranges rather far afield.
The "grégorien" interludes tend to be very quiet and abstract. They are subdued, and if based on particular chants, it is not apparent. The sections of Machaut's mass ordinary begin by presenting a clear outline of Machaut's melodies, which is increasingly ornamented in the Kyries. At many times, the sonority reminds me of "classic rock" from the 1970s, and there is a rich interplay of ideas with Machaut's as a backdrop. As the performance progresses, the Gloria & Credo become increasingly distorted, although the melodies are generally present. The Credo becomes rather quiet and strange at times, leading into what could almost be Xenakis in the Sanctus. The Agnus returns to a more traditional, almost Handel-esque feel, and the whole thing closes abruptly with a "rock" Ite Missa Est.
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