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Presented in a stylish 4-CD box set, here is a comprehensive recording of one of the most enigmatic manuscripts in the history of European music, preserved in the museum at the Château de Chantilly, France.
‘Anything that can be sung, can be written in music notation,’ claimed an anonymous treatise on notation in the late fourteenth century. The harmonies thus ‘captured’ on parchment represent an apex in Western music, associated with the wealthiest courts in Christendom, called ‘decadent’ by some. Various elements of improvisation – avant-garde dissonance, astonishing rhythmic complexity, arching, lyrical melisma – meld into musical forms which test the boundaries of late Gothic sensibilities. Here are love songs for the End of the World: a time of deadly plague, devastating earthquakes, endless war, disintegrating religion, and the explosion of science and measurement.