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Various songs and music from Monserrat.
Dorian DOR93202 63m DDD.
Crotchet  Amazon UK   Amazon USA

This is a highly interesting album featuring various excerpts from the extant surviving music hailing from the famous pilgrim shrines of Santiago de Compostela with a direct leaf out of the famous 'Libre Vermell' which is the legendary 'Red Book' now stored in the museum's monastery. The album contains various songs from this book with chants, instrumental music and other pieces showing the rich diversity of styles extant in the 14th century.

Sarband are a wonderfully versatile ensemble with a varied palette of choral and instrumental forces that really do justice to this wonderful music. 'O virgo splendens is the opening track and this is sung with vigour and aplomb as are the rowdy instrumental excursions that permeate the intriguing Laudemus virgenem. The variety continues with settings of 'Mariam matrem', 'Cedit frigus' and a beautiful interpretation of Polarum regina that is truly treasurable. The vocal ensemble are a quartet whilst the various instruments being used include hurdy gurdy, lutes, portable organs and a vast array of medieval and arab percussions. It is certainly splendid enjoyment and will help no end to rediscover the beauty of this music as a potent force of reappreciation in today's materially conscious world. The far off sounds of medieval pilgrims are indeed a haunting and highly moving experience. Sarband's recreation of the Red Book does just that!

Gerald Fenech



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