Discography of Ars Antiqua

The following disks can be found in the classical room of any major record store (Tower, Virgin, etc.). Some can be found at public and/or University libraries, and most can be found at our house.

The term "Ars antiqua" was applied by 14th-century composers and theorists (particularly Philippe de Vitry, who called his own music "Ars nova") to the "old-fashioned" music of the 13th century.  It is applied today to a range of music, mostly polyphonic, written in Western Europe between about 1100 and 1300 A.D.  Most of the pieces are at least partly sacred, but many also have a secular thread woven in.

Some of the composers in this category could also reasonably fall under the heading of Troubadours and Trouvéres. We've drawn a sort of arbitrary dividing line between them.

The Recordings

Anonymous 4. Love's Illusion. (Harmonia Mundi HMU 907109).
Subtitled "Music from the Montpellier Codex, 13th-Century".  29 brief tracks, most of which consist of one or two French love songs set above a Latin, Gregorian-chant tenor line.

Early Music Consort of London. Music of the Gothic Era. (Polydor Archiv POL 925).
This 1976 album, directed by the legendary David Munrow, played a significant part in the revival of interest in Early Music.  Munrow divides the album into "Notre Dame period" (ca. 1160-ca. 1250), "Ars Antiqua" (ca. 1250-ca. 1320) and "Ars Nova" (ca. 1320-ca. 1380).

Early Music Institute. Le Jeu de Robin et Marion. (Focus 913).
The musicians of the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, directed by the legendary Thomas Binkley, perform the 13th-century Play of Robin and Marion, by Adam de la Halle.

Ensemble Gilles Binchois. Fontaine de Grace. (Veritas VC 45066 2).
Dominique Vellard directs the Ensemble in a variety of ballades, virelais, and rondeaux on themes of love by 13th-century composer Jehan de Lescurel.

Ensemble Gilles Binchois. Les Premieres Polyphonies Francaises, XIe Siècle. (Veritas D 112718).
Examples of organum and tropes in sacred polyphony of the 11th century.

Gothic Voices. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. (Hyperion CDA66423).
Subtitled "Motets and Songs from Thirteenth-century France". Seventeen pieces, including both sacred and secular lyrics in, variously, Latin, French, and Provencal. Listeners unaccustomed to picking apart the lines of a motet will be be aided by the practice, on this recording, of singing each line separately before putting them together.

Gothic Voices. Music for the Lion-hearted King. (Hyperion CDA66336).
Subtitled "Music to commemorate the 8th centenary of the Coronation of King Richard I of England in Westminster Abbey, 3 September 1189".  Conducti and chansons from the time of the Third Crusade.

Schola Cantorum Basiliensis: Dominique Vellard and Emmanuel Bonnardot. Nova Cantica: Latin songs of the High Middle Ages. (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 77196-2-RC).
Thirteen conducti, tropes, and sequences from 12th-century France.

Sequentia. Philippe le Chancelier: School of Notre Dame. (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 77035-2-RC).
A mix of conducti, lais, sequences, and rondellus by Philippe le Chancelier, who lived from c. 1165 to 1236.

Sequentia. Visions from the Book. (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 05472 77347 2).
A collection of lais, conducti, and related forms from the 12th through 14th centuries, retelling Bible stories in Latin verse.  With the "Sons of Thunder" men's vocal ensemble, accompanied by Barbara Thornton's voice and Elizabeth Gaver on vielle.

Studio der Frühen Musik Early Music Quartet. Carmina Burana. (Teldec 8.43775 and 8.44012).
A two-volume collection of 34 songs from the original, c. 1300, manuscript from the Benediktbeurn Monastery, better known today for Carl Orff's 20th-century re-setting of some of the pieces. The original manuscript gives lyrics and "heighted neumes", a notation which serves more to remind a performer of an already-memorized tune than to inform a performer of the tune on first sight; however, this notation was already somewhat obsolete at the time, and many of the same lyrics appear with more informative musical notation in other manuscripts of the same time, so it is possible to perform these pieces to a good approximation of their original tunes.

Last modified: Mon Mar 6 21:27:04 EST 2000
Stephen Bloch / webmaster@ostgardr.org