30 Nov 5* Review from BBC Music Magazine for The Splendour of Florence
The Splendour of Florence with a Burgundian Resonance
BBC Music Magazine29 Nov 2022
Works by Anon, Busnois, F Caron, Compère, Dufay and Ockeghem
Gothic Voices/Andrew Lawrence-king
Linn Records CKD 700 75:29 mins
It may come as a surprise that a recording celebrating ‘the splendour of Florence’ in the early Renaissance contains not a note of music by a local composer, for the city-state on the Arno was flooded by ‘Oltremontani’ – musicians from ‘beyond the mountains’ – whose works illuminate the pages of contemporary Florentine manuscripts. The mainstay of the recording is Dufay’s famously cerebral motet Nuper rosarum f lores, written for the consecration of Florence’s Duomo in 1436 and heard here in an intimate one-toa-part performance – transparent rather than grandiose. Other Latin motets (among them the lovely Virgo Dei throno Digna by the theorist Tinctoris and Ockeghem’s fragrant Alma redemptoris mater) celebrate the cult of the Virgin, dedicatee of the city’s newly finished cathedral.
The poetic French chansons included here intoxicated the European courts and cities with their ravishingly wistful melodies, delicately intertwined. Gothic Voices and veteran harpist Andrew Lawrence-king realise them with warmth and affection, retaining and revitalising the vintage Gothic Voices sound. The ensemble is incisive, ripe-toned and finely balanced, and the hypnotically repeating strains of the various rondeaux (including the mesmerising pan-European ‘hit’ De tous biens plaine) are subtly varied with different scorings and timbres – delicate as a fine French tapestry. Kate Bolton-Porciatti