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Diskantores & Niels Berentsen – Hollandse Fragmenten [Early Dutch Polyphony] (2021) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Diskantores & Niels Berentsen – Hollandse Fragmenten [Early Dutch Polyphony] (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:06:14 minutes | 1,18 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © MUSO

Precious little Dutch polyphonic music survives from the middle ages. Whatever is left consists of fragments of manuscripts, now kept at the university libraries of Utrecht, Leiden and Amsterdam, dating from around 1400. This means that a significant number of compositions come down to us in an incomplete state: voices are missing, and some of the music has become illegible. To make a larger portion of this repertoire accessible to the public, some of the fragments have been restored digitally, some of the lacunary pieces have been reconstructed (‘recomposed’) by ensemble leader Niels Berentsen. The exact provenance of the fragments is difficult to assess with certainty, but what is clear is that they originated from the Dutch language-area: in all collections we find songs on Middle-Dutch texts. It is probable that the fragments originated around the court of the county of Holland in The Hague, or in the urban environment of Utrecht, the bishop’s residence.

With this album, Diskantores presents a cross section of this unique, multifaceted repertoire. Liturgical pieces could have been performed as part of a mass, while secular pieces with Dutch, French or German texts would have been sung in a private circle of connoisseurs, or during festivities at the court. This then presents a project that perfectly fits muso: off the beaten track, full of joy and beautifully performed by a young vocal ensemble, joined here by Jacques Meegens on a medieval organ whose sounds leave no one indifferent. A musical treat that will lift all spirits!

The Diskantores ensemble, made up of four solid and cheerful musicians (two countertenors and two tenors), is here exploiting real polyphonic treasures from the Dutch Middle Ages, fragments of manuscripts kept in public libraries in Amsterdam, Leiden and Utrecht. Their provenance is uncertain, although the texts set to music are all in Dutch. These manuscripts have been damaged, mutilated and reused over the years, but the gaps in the manuscripts and some missing parts have been digitally reconstructed.

These “Dutch Fragments” (Hollandse fragmenten) are touching by the clarity of their lines and by their history, which came close to complete destruction. These snippets of art and knowledge are multifaceted: pieces of a liturgical nature mingle with secular songs at a time when religion took precedence over everything else.

In this austere and superb recording, the vocal pieces alternate with organ pieces from the Groningen tablature and the Codex Faenza, with an exceptional presence. The raspy and frank tones of the Van Straten organ in the Orgelpark in Amsterdam, a precious reconstruction of a 15th century Dutch instrument, further enhance the special atmosphere of this wonderfully timeless album. – François Hudry


1. Diskantores – Eer ende lof
2. Diskantores – Adieu vous di
3. Jacques Meegens – Indescort (Codex Faenza)
4. Diskantores – Een cleyn parabel
5. Diskantores – Salve Regina
6. Diskantores – Ist mi bescheert
7. Diskantores – Och lief gesel
8. Diskantores – Au debot de no rue
9. Diskantores – Kyrie cunctipotens (Codex Faenza)
10. Diskantores – Gloria
11. Diskantores – Psallat Chorus / Eximie Pater
12. Diskantores – Gloria Jubilacio
13. Diskantores – Deo gracias
14. Jacques Meegens – O crux gloriosa
15. Diskantores – En ties en latin en romans
16. Diskantores – Renouveler mi feist
17. Jacques Meegens – Empris domoyrs (Groningen tabulature)
18. Diskantores – Fröleichen so well wir / N’ay je cause
19. Jacques Meegens – Asperance (Groningen tabulature)
20. Diskantores – Ho ho ho


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