This is quite a wonderful program, including some of Machaut's best and most sophisticated songs, some for the first time. It illustrates a wealth of melodic invention and harmonic ideas. These are some of my favorite songs, both by Machaut and from the era.
Although presented with much fanfare (even pretension in the notes), the performance does not overwhelm. It does, however, have definite merits. It can be inarticulate at times, and comes with an English accent, although this is a factor which can fade into the background over time. The leisurely pacing is nice, as is the command of vertical space. The sameness of sonority throughout makes it somewhat less interesting sonically, but all-vocal performances are still relatively under-represented on disc, and the sameness of the program lends it a nice unity.
Although this rendition definitely has its strengths, it is not as crisp and vibrant as e.g. Gothic Voices' work in this area. Still, with increased listening, there is a certain flowing quality to the songs as presented by the Orlando Consort which is of merit. Given the dated intonation of Gothic Voices' first Machaut program, this remains the best choice for an all-vocal all-Machaut program.
To medieval secular listTodd M. McComb