Bucharest Madrigal Chamber Chorus

Documents of Vocal Culture in Wallachia, Moldova and Transylvania

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This record has a terribly dry, academic title, and the packaging looks rather like a textbook, but the contents are fascinating for anyone with an interest in early vocal music. The musical culture of Romania, like that of the rest of Europe in medieval times, originated in the Christian church, but the influence of the Byzantine church beginning in the year 535, plus Romania's location in the middle of a key travel and trade route, meant their music became notably varied both textually and harmonically. These 17 hymns and chants, dating from the 14th through the early-18th centuries, are sung in Greek, Romanian, Latin, and Italian, and are beautiful examples of early vocal music, sung as closely as possible to the way they were historically. The beauty of these pieces is powerful and striking, and the growing complexity of the melodies as the pieces move chronologically through the centuries is fascinating to follow. The detailed liner notes are tremendously helpful, but transcriptions and translations of the texts being sung would have been appreciated.

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