Early Music Recording Lists

Medieval Sacred Music

The subject of this list is the sacred music of the medieval era, basically the 12th century through the beginning of the 15th century. I will list recordings roughly chronologically; this list breaks naturally into three sections, with slightly different criteria applying in each.

The break between Ars Antiqua & Ars Nova is a fairly clear technical one. The English repertory is given separately because of its unique historical position.

Ars Antiqua

This music has become relatively popular, and has received correspondingly many recordings, but I will remain selective here. The list will be relatively short, although there do continue to be new renditions which are too compelling to miss. There are still other ways to survey this repertory.

For the purposes of this list, I will include some Latin lyrics (principally conducti) alongside liturgical items. There are also similar items in the song list, based partly on whim.

Nova Cantica (***)
Latin Songs of the High Middle Ages
Dominique Vellard and Emmanuel Bonnardot
Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 77196
Magister Leoninus - 2 (**)
Sacred Music from 12th century Paris
Red Byrd / YorVox - John Potter & Richard Wistreich
Hyperion 67289
Ecole de Notre Dame de Paris (**)
Permanence et Rayonnement: XIIe, XIIIe et XIVe siècles
Ensemble Gilles Binchois - Dominique Vellard
Harmonic 9349
Pérotin & L'École de Notre Dame, 1160-1245 (***)
Ensemble Gilles Binchois - Dominique Vellard
Ambroisie 9947
Vox Sonora (**)
Conduits de l'Ecole de Notre Dame
Diabolus in Musica - Antoine Guerber
Studio SM 2673

Ars Nova

This music is finally receiving some broader attention, and there is now some variety to the choices other than with Machaut. There remains the possibility of adding some other programs, however. Only recordings which are primarily sacred will be listed here, although there are other tracks of some interest in various places on the secular list.

In Memoriam (****)
Machaut: Messe Notre Dame Ensemble Musica Nova - Lucien Kandel
Aeon 1093
Almisonis Melos (**)
Latin Motets and Mass Fragments in the Ivrea Codex
Cantica Symphonia - Giuseppe Maletto
Opus 111 30-309
Cypriot Advent Antiphons (*)
Anonymous c.1390
Huelgas Ensemble - Paul Van Nevel
Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 7977

English - Dunstable

In some ways England ignored the Ars Nova, such that this section shows more continuity with itself than it does with trends on the Continent. While the later end of this repertory might be called Renaissance in style, it is certainly medieval in spirit and usually classed that way. Dunstable is the composer who most clear consummates the English style of this era, illustrating all best traits in exemplary fashion.

Honi soit qui mal y pense! (**)
Polyphonies des chapelles royales anglaises (1328-1410)
Diabolus in Musica - Antoine Guerber
Alpha Productions 022
John Dunstaple (**)
Musician to the Plantagenets
Orlando Consort
Metronome 1009
Cathedral Sounds - Dunstable (**)
Sacred music of the late English Gothic
Clemencic Consort - René Clemencic
Arte Nova 34055

If a recording belonging to the latter sections is not listed here, either I haven't been able to obtain a copy (perhaps out of print), I don't know about it at all, it is substantially duplicated by a performance I like better, or I don't care for it enough to give it one star. Please feel free to inquire, especially if you know a recording I probably don't.

I will try to keep this page up to date as new releases appear.

To recommendation lists.

Todd M. McComb
Updated: 28 December 2010