René Clemencic / Clemencic Consort


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Troubadours, who began to flourish in southern France in the second half of the 11th century, were composers (though not necessarily performers), the subject of whose songs was often love, most frequently courtly love, which was characterized yearning for and devotion to someone unattainable. In Troubadours, a collection of songs and dramatic recitations from the 12th and early 13th centuries, René Clemencic and his Clemencic Consort attempt to re-create the ambience and settings in which these pieces would have been performed. Joglars, who performed the troubadours' works, would have sung, recited, and played accompanying instruments, often joined by other instrumentalists and singers. This album provides an appealing mix of pieces and performing styles. Some are solos, simply accompanied, some are extended spoken narratives punctuated by instrumental interludes, and some include a larger group of singers joining or responding to the soloist. The songs are frequently preceded by a spoken introduction, in which the joglar would present a précis of the troubadour's life, sometimes including a commentary, which was not always complimentary. The CD includes more spoken sections than music albums generally do, but it's effective as a realistic presentation of the context in which this music would have originally been performed. Most of the melodies are lively with strongly rhythmic, dance-like energy, but there are also soulful songs of the sorrow of love that can never be consummated. The performances by the Clemencic Consort are exemplary, rigorously researched, with that research applied to singing and playing that are audaciously uninhibited. The soloists' voices are strong, attractive, and unmannered, and the instrumental ensemble is colorful and varied, employing a number of instruments that are esoteric even by the standards of usual early music groups. The sound is clean and vivid. The CD should appeal to anyone interested in lively and inventive realizations of how this very early music might have been performed. (This CD includes most of the same content as the Clemencic Consort's identically named album of 2009, except that Peire Vidal's Barons de mon dan convit and Bernart da Ventadorn's motet Quan (can) vei la lauzeta mover are omitted and replaced by a number of shorter pieces in the later release.)

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