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A Marriage of England & Burgundy
Walter FRYE
Missa Summe trinitati; Missa Sine nomine (attrib.)

Regina coeli I & II
and two motets (attrib. Busnois)
The Binchois Consort/Andrew Kirkman

Hyperion CDA67129 [74.48]

Missa Sine nomine (Anon Walter Frye?). Regina coeli I. Regina coeli II (Antoine Busnois). Missa Summe Trinitati (Walter Frye). O pulcherrima mulierum / Girum coeli circuivi. Incomprehensibilia firmo / Praeter rerum ordinem (Antoine Busnois).                

These masses, one definitely by Frye (d.1474?) and another attributed to him on account of close similarities, are the main parts of an enjoyable programme of of 15 C. ecclesiastical music which the notes writer, conductor Andrew Kirkman, supposes may have been sung in connection with the marriage of Margaret of York to Charles, Duke of Burgundy, in 1468. The Frye masses share similar varied & syncopated lines, with obsessive rhythmic repetitions and overlapping texts. The Sine nomine (attribt) example traverses the ground briskly, the other more complex & leisurely. The Busnois pieces include two motets latterly assigned to him by modern scholarship, In hydraulis more persuasively so than O pulcherrima.

This CD, based upon a manuscript in Brussels, is entitled A Marriage of England & Burgundy and Kirkman gives a full historical background for his speculations. It is well sung by the ensemble of six male singers and clearly recorded. I enjoyed it.

Peter Grahame Woolf

and David Wright poses a number of questions:-

The Binchois Consort are six male singers and they are very fine. I admire their secure intonation and style. It is clear that their silent conductor is also a first rate musician.

This is another disc of interest for those fascinated by the history of music and it shows another chapter in many debates including the ownership of the throne of England

Had the Saxon king, Ethelred the Unready not married the Norman princess, Emma and, when he died, she not been summoned back to Britain by Canute who married her, by which time she had a French son, what might have happened? Had the throne of England not been promised to William, Duke of Normandy and the Witan not declared Harold King....... what might have happened? If Harold had not to fight his brother Tostig and the King of Norway and then march to take on William with his weary troops what might have happened?

But the dispute between England and France extended to Burgundy and the power of politics raged. Only a wedding could join England and Burgundy together and this notion and practice has stained history with intrigues and wars.

The music is very uneventful as one might expect from this period. It is all much the same and, frankly, becomes tedious even if the writer of the sleeve note speaks of its greatness. Unaccompanied male voices for 75 minutes takes a lot of stamina.

Beautifully sung and produced but I think this music must be for those of an acquired taste. Historically, it is important and it is good to have it but I, for one, will only use this disc for reference purposes. 

David Wright



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