Ensemble P.A.N. [Project Ars Nova]

The Island of St. Hylarion: Music of Cyprus, 1413-1422

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Ensemble P.A.N. are a group of five singers and instrumentalists who specialize in the music of the Middle Ages. On their second release on the New Albion label, Ensemble P.A.N. turn to early 15th-century Cyprus, where there was a brief but very creative blossoming of French-influenced art music. The first dozen pieces are primarily secular love songs (rondeaux and ballades) sung in French, while the final four pieces are religious motets and antiphons sung in Latin. The album is dominated by the particular flavor of the tenor and countertenor voices of the male members of the group, supported by the mezzosopranos. Stringed instruments -- lute, harp, and vielle -- along with occasional corno muto and slide trumpet provide support for the singers, as well as executing several instrumental works sprinkled throughout the album. The Island of St. Hylarion is a feast of riches for those drawn to the rarified atmosphere of high medieval music.

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