Leuven Chansonnier

New Songs from the Leuven Chansonnier
Ensemble Leones - Marc Lewon
Naxos 8.574395

This remains a somewhat preliminary rating: The bulk of the program consists of music newly discovered in 2015, i.e. the program has been selected from among the unique pieces from the so-called Leuven Chansonnier (compiled c.1470), plus differing versions of a few well-known songs (plus a couple of standard renditions). So this is largely new material, in terms of evaluating it. But early impressions are of very high quality overall — also involving different styles in different chansons.

Performance practice follows this group's Chansonnier Cordiforme album, i.e. of songs from what is probably the most similar contemporary chanson manuscript. However, if anything, the performances are even more accomplished here, building on earlier experiences. Choices involve variety across tracks, i.e. employing different ensembles, sometimes more voices, sometimes more instruments (along with some doubling at times, apparently motivated by voice splits in the source itself...), but a generally colorful & strongly articulated style.

So this would've been an inconceivable program ten years ago, but now involves some of the most satisfying renditions of music from the third quarter of the fifteenth century....

To renaissance secular list.

Todd M. McComb
Updated: 27 February 2023