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, oriented on the Notre Dame repertory, although there do continue to be new renditions that are too compelling to miss. There are still other ways to survey this repertory.

For the purposes of this list, I also could have continued to include more programs featuring Latin lyrics (principally conducti) alongside the liturgical items, but have moved the former to the secular list, based partly on whim. Some albums below do include conductus together with organum, though — a commonly recorded combination.

Magister Leoninus - 2 (*)
Sacred Music from 12th century Paris
Red Byrd / YorVox - John Potter & Richard Wistreich
Hyperion 67289
Pérotin & L'École de Notre Dame, 1160-1245 (**)
Ensemble Gilles Binchois - Dominique Vellard
Ambroisie 9947
Sanctus ! (**)
Les saints dans la polyphonie parisienne au XIIIe siècle
Diabolus in Musica - Antoine Guerber
Bayard Musique 308 422
Fons luminis (*)
Codex Las Huelgas
Ensemble Gilles Binchois - Dominique Vellard
Evidence Classics 051

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.

Messes de Barcelone et d'Apt (*)
Sacred Vocal Music from the 14th century
Ensemble Gilles Binchois - Dominique Vellard
Evidence Classics 060
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
Hanelle: Cypriot Vespers (**)
Graindelavoix - Björn Schmelzer
Glossa Platinum 32112

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 basically medieval in spirit and usually classed that way. Dunstable is the composer who most clearly consummates the English style of the era, illustrating the best traits in exemplary fashion. (Unfortunately, dedicated Dunstaple performances themselves are rather dated at this point.)

Beneath the Northern Star (**)
The Rise of English Polyphony, 1275-1430
Orlando Consort
Hyperion 68132
John Dunstaple (*)
Musician to the Plantagenets
Orlando Consort
Metronome 1009
Echoes of an Old Hall (**)
Gothic Voices
Linn Records 644

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: 17 June 2021