Stimmwerck: Flos Virginum, Motets Of The 15th Century

review stimm x1 cong

As far as we’re concerned you can’t go wrong with heavenly voices from the 15th century (at least, modern musicians singing heavenly music from the C15th), and this is about as good as it gets.
Admittedly there’s not a lot of variation but Stimmwerck, a German vocal quartet, prove that the human voice is the most magical of instruments as they present forgotten corners of European musical history. This recording features late medieval motets and songs by Brassart, Martini, Roullet, as well as anonymous composers from various manuscript sources.
The recordings bring together music from the late medieval period in Austria and it is part of a research project. It sounds like sacred music throughout but it’s a mix of the sacred and secular, some motets praising the Habsburg rulers of the time. The sleeve notes describe the vocal / lyric techniques most fully (“It only employs an antiphon with this text as the tenor cantus firmus but also presents a second text in the upper voice set in somewhat awkward hexameters…”) but to a more casual listener the songs flow like honey, the various voices blending together seamlessly.
The lyrics can be a little clunky: “O King Frederick, you truly excel, As an outstanding guardian of our peace, protector of the clergy and concerned governor of our people” etc but it’s all sung in Latin anyway.
A nice late night album, and good for Christmas if you want something a bit different. Out now on CPO 777937-2.

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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