Machaut: Fortune's Child

Orlando Consort

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Machaut: Fortune's Child Review

by Blair Sanderson

The Orlando Consort's Machaut edition has advanced to its fifth volume, which offers 14 songs on the subject of fortune, particularly as it influenced courtly love. Medieval representations of Lady Fortune and the Wheel of Fortune were popular symbols in art and poetry, and while Machaut drew themes from 14th century sources, most notably Le Roman de Fauvel, he also found inspiration in Boethius' sixth century work The Consolations of Philosophy, which contributed ideas to his long poem Le Remède de Fortune, as well as to his ballades, virelais, and rondeaux. The lively performances on this 2018 Hyperion release show the Orlando Consort's exceptional skill and sympathy with Machaut's music, and the group sings with remarkable virtuosity and freshness, as was heard in the previous installments, Songs from Le Voir Dit, The Dart of Love, A Burning Heart, and Sovereign Beauty. Performed by countertenor Matthew Venner, tenors Mark Dobell and Angus Smith, and baritone Donald Greig, Fortune's Child demonstrates their mastery of Machaut's intricate counterpoint and complex rhythms, as well as the more challenging aspects of expression and interpretation of Ars nova vocal music. Hyperion recorded this album in 2016 at the church of St. John the Baptist, Loughton, Essex, striking a balance between the closeness of the singers and the depth of the performance space.

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