SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews
Scattered Rhymes – Vocal music of GUILLAME DE MACHAUT and TARIK O’REGAN – The Orlando Consort/ Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir – Harmonia mundi
Published on June 5, 2008
Guillaume de Machaut’s Messe de Nostre Dame is notable in that it was not only the first complete setting of a mass, but also the first with an identifiable composer. Composed in the mid-fourteenth century, it employed a radical approach to music that is brilliant in its diversity, with an abundance of dazzling vocal pyrotechnics, even by modern standards. Composer Tarik O’Regan has a fascination for Machaut’s masterwork; his own Scattered Rhymes borrows stylistically from Machaut, and was composed with the intention of both pieces being performed on the same program. Both composers integrate themes of longing and desire through a complex weaving of sacred and secular texts.
Scattered Rhymes combines several texts that date from Machaut’s time, with the various texts being sung simultaneously by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the Orlando Consort. A barrage of vocal information is being thrown at the listener, but careful contemplation reveals that all counterpoint is clearly discernable. The complexity of these pieces is definitely daunting, but a measure patience will reward the listener willing to experience these masterworks of choral music, whose closeness in spirit belies the 650 years that separate them.
The surround sound recording from Harmonia mundi is nothing short of spectacular, and the listener can easily pinpoint the locations of the various vocalists in the excellent representation of the acoustic of the Greyfriars Church in Edinburgh, Scotland. A challenging listen indeed, but very highly recommended!
– Tom Gibbs