Cyprus - Vespers

Hanelle: Cypriot Vespers
Graindelavoix - Björn Schmelzer
Glossa Platinum 32112

This is a fascinating cycle of antiphons (motets), and one of the most interesting sacred compositions of the period. There is a lot of very elaborate isorhythmic passagework, yet the pieces hold together in a coherent way. In fact, there are motivic connections through the cycle, making it stand as perhaps the largest-scale isorhythmic work. Despite its obscurity, it can be viewed increasingly as a monument of the period, and a cycle of uncommon merit.

The above was written prior to the recent attribution of both this antiphon cycle & the entire Turin mansucript to the previously obscure Jean Hanelle. His suddenly becomes an amazingly extensive output, including e.g. the Cypriot secular music. I continue to find this cycle to be highly appealing.

The performance, as usual with Graindelavoix, is fascinating. Greek & Arab liturgical pieces are included, and vocal articulation & ornmamentation encompass a range of Eastern & Southern styles, including antiphon selections that might be taken as explicitly Gallican. As a result, the way the motets of the cycle come together seems even more magical, and indeed the interpretation opens up to many broader possibilities of affective response. There is more of a "flow" here than one might expect.

To medieval sacred list

Todd M. McComb
Updated: 8 November 2016