Written between 1230 and 1275 by Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, the French poem Le Roman de la Rose was a courtly allegory about love and chivalry that provided inspiration to poets and musicians, including Geoffrey Chaucer and Guillaume de Machaut. The poem was quite popular and pervasive across Europe in the 14th century, and as one of the greatest poet-composers of the time, Machaut surely fell under its influence. Yet while Machaut's uses of the rose as a symbol of the beloved are likely in reference to Le Roman de la Rose, his ballades, virelais, and rondeaux take their subjects from a variety of medieval tropes on romantic love and show his genius for inventive wordplay and scene painting. The Orlando Consort has issued six previous CDs in its anticipated 12-volume Machaut Edition on Hyperion, and this seventh offering continues the series with the expected polished vocals and expressive nuances that have made this project a success. Countertenor Matthew Venner, tenors Mark Dobell and Angus Smith, and baritone Donald Greig sing with complete mastery of the intricate polyphony, odd harmonies, and complicated rhythms that are characteristic of Machaut's ars nova style, and maintain a purity of tone and line that keeps the music intelligible in the rather resonant acoustics of All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson