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Adam de la Halle: Le Jeu de Robin et Marion
Our Price: $12.00

Performers: Musicians of the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis
Director: Thomas Binkley

The Play of Robin and Marion originated in the last quarter of the thirteenth century and is probably the earliest pastourelle play to be written with a substantial musical component by a single composer. Adam de la Halle (1237-1286) forms through his compositions the climax of a development that began at the close of the eleventh century with William IX of Aquitain, the earliest troubadour whose works are represented in any manuscript. This live performance recording places the play within the context of the time. There is no clear beginning to the play—the audience enters the performance space, the singing of sacred music already in progress. The scenes of the play are separated by motets and polyphonic rondeaux performed with theatrical gesture, compositions related to the play and its composer. The original language—Old Picard—is used so that its sound and resultant poetry can be appreciated by the listener.
 
 
 
Tracks
  1. Pre-play music (including "Li joliz temps d'estey")
  2. Opening of play (Robins m'aime...)
  3. He! Robechon...
  4. Gautier, Baudon, estes vous la?
  5. Dites, Bergiere...
  6. Interlude
  7. Viaus sire
  8. Avoec tele compaignie...
  9. Stick Dance
  10. Di me dont voir
Beyond Plainsong: Tropes and Polyphony in the Medieval Church
Our Price: $12.00

Performers: The Pro Arte Singers
Director: Thomas Binkley

While the primary music of the early middle ages was Gregorian chant, there was an important secondary level of quasi-improvised vocal music beginning in the eleventh century that utilized polyphony. It could justifiably be called Beyond Plainsong. The earliest polyphony varied from singing in strict parallel intervals, to creating complex cadences employing contrary motion and other contrapuntal practices. This initial simple polyphonic practice sprouted many tributaries, some quite complicated, leading to a professional level of solistic music in addition to the readily learned choral practices. The music on this CD demonstrates the common practices of polyphony of the time, from simple parallel motion (choral organum) to the more florid and soloistic organum known as Ars Organi.

Cornucopia: French Chamber Music for Horn and Strings
Our Price: $12.00

Performers: Richard Serphinoff, natural horn; Judson Griffin, violin; Cynthia Roberts, violin; Andrea Andros, viola; Allen Whear, cello; Jesse Watras, bass

The French School of horn playing in nineteenth-century Paris attained a reputation unsurpassed in the history of the instrument. Probably the most important factor contributing to this reputation was the establishment of the École Royale de Chant et de Déclamation in 1774, and 10 years later, the Conservatoire National. The art of horn playing was also being advanced by Bohemian hornists such as Antoine-Joseph Hampel (ca. 1710–1771), who was instrumental in developing the technique of hand stopping, and whose influential ideas were carried throughout Europe by his students. At the same time the natural horn was gradually being replaced by the orchestral horn, which was smaller in diameter and had terminal crooks for playing in different keys and, later, a tuning slide. The instrument was no longer held hunting style, but with the bell to the player's side making it accessible for hand stopping. The music on this CD represents the height of composition for French horn in the early nineteenth century.

Guillaume Dufay: Missa Ecce Ancilla Domini
Our Price: $12.00

Performers: The Pro Arte Singers
Director: Thomas Binkley

Guillaume Dufay (ca. 1400–1474) is regarded as the foremost French composer of the early fifteenth century. He was a widely traveled and educated cleric, having first studied and worked in Italy, then later in what is now Switzerland and France. It was common practice to set the Ordinarium Missa in polyphony, which was sung by a specially trained choir, while the Proprium Missa was sung by the Schola Cantorum in plainsong. The plainsong was sometimes sung in parts, the result of the impossibility of mixed voices to sing in unison, so the singing was done in octaves or occasionally other intervals. Solos were sung by trained choristers in pairs, trios, or quartets. The structure of the mass also permitted optional incremental music in the form or tropes or motets, which served to prevent silence when actions extended beyond the duration of the existing music, often heightening the theme of the service and providing points of beauty.

The Italian Archlute: 17th century Gianoncelli, Kapsperger, and Zamboni
Our Price: $12.00

Performer: David Rogers, archlute

The archlute is a member of the lute family of instruments, which extends its range by on octave with the addition of a "bass extension," an extended neck and pegbox supporting seven extra strings. These strings are never stopped; instead they are always played open and are tuned to the key of each piece. The archlute was the primary accompaniment instrument in Italy and England during the seventeenth century. In spite of stiff competition from the harpsichord in the eighteenth century, the archlute remained quite popular through the late baroque. Despite its popularity as an ensemble instrument, its surviving solo repertoire is small in comparison to the repertoire of other instruments of the lute family. This recording features the work of three well known performer-composers: Giovanni Girolamo Kapsperger, Bernardo Gianoncelli, and Giovanni Zamboni.

Johann Sebastian Bach: Compositions for Transverse Flute
Our Price: $12.00

Performers: Kim Pineda, transverse flute; Elisabeth Wright, harpsichord; Elisabeth Reed, violoncello

The music of Johann Sebastian Bach constitutes an apex of western classical music. Born into a musical family, he chose a professional career as a musician. At various times in his life he was a performer, teacher, and composer. Although he was highly respected by his contemporaries for his keyboard and improvisational skills, "Old Bach," as he was known in his later years, was not always respected as a composer, for he wrote no operas nor did he participate in new dramatic styles. The five works on this recording were composed in three different periods in Bach's life and demonstrate his mastery of instrumental composition.

Laude: Medieval Italian Spiritual Songs
Our Price: $12.00

Performers: Musicians of the Early Music Institute
Director: Thomas Binkley

The songs on this CD were composed in the late thirteenth century. According to the practice of the time, they were collected and written down at the same time they were performed. Most often only the texts were recorded, but two sources containing both text and music survived, a late thirteenth-century laudario from Cortina and a sumptuously decorated laudario from early fourteenth-century Florence. The songs in these collections are characterized by great beauty and directness of expression and by surprising variety and virtuosity. In performance they exude the ardent devotion and passionate spirituality that the friars of the time inspired among the people of medieval Italy.
 
 
 
Tracks
  1. Laude Novella
  2. Plangiamo
  3. Laudate La Surrectione
  4. Peccatrice Nominata
Maria Goncalves, singer
Matthew Pass, Singer
Todd Field, Lute
David Greenberg, Vielle
Luca Pellegrini, Recorder
 
Popular Elizabethan Music Around 1600
Our Price: $12.00

Performers: The Musicians of Swanne Alley
Directors: Paul O'Dette and Lyle Nordstrom

Swanne Alley, the London street of musicians, was alive with music during the last quarter of the sixteenth century, alive with the sounds of the consort, of recorders, voices, and viols—alive with infectious, earthy English melody. The variety of musical forms on this CD reflects the flexibility of these native melodies, especially the ballad tune. Many wealthy English families of the period retained musicians. The family of Thomas Kytson of Hengrave, Suffolk, employed "the musicians of Swanne Alley" at their London house paying them "for many times playing with their instruments for my master and mistress." The music presented here demonstrates the wide range of musical literature of the time including English part songs, instrumental dances, grounds, country dances, lute music, and music for consort.

The Baroque Hurdy-Gurdy
Our Price: $12.00

The hurdy-gurdy is an instrument found throughout Europe and is known as the vielle in France, the Drehleier in Germany, and the Ghironda in Italy.  The English term originated in nineteenth-century England as a derisive name for an instrument played by indigent street musicians.

The hurdy-gurdy is a member of the bowed string family like the violin. The bow is a wooden, rosin-covered wheel turned with a crank that rubs against the strings.

The Clavichord: Music of Johann Kuhnau and C.P.E. Bach
Our Price: $12.00

 The clavichord is a keyboard instrument in which a metal tangent at the end of the key strikes a string when the key is depressed. This produces a soft singing tone that can be altered by finger pressure to produce vibrato and other expressive ornaments. The dynamic range is small, the sound petite, but, nonetheless, the clavichord was an important solo instrument for over 200 years. The music is composed by Johann Kuhanu, one of the leading clavichordist of the eighteenth century, and by his pupil, Carl Philipp Emnuel Bach, the most famous clavichordist of all.
   
 
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