Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Echoes from a Time of War and Religious Schism; CLASSICAL

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Echoes from a Time of War and Religious Schism; CLASSICAL

Article excerpt

Byline: STEPHEN PETTITT

Clerks' Group, Blackheath Concert Halls

WHAT with rampant plague, the beginning of the Hundred Years' War, and papal schism, life in 14th century France was about as stable as life in 21st century anywhere. And it should be of no surprise that the music of the time reflects that fact, whether through allusion or escapism.

Both sorts of reaction were evident in the Clerks' Group's programme, devised and introduced by its director Edward Wickham. It consisted of music by the great Guillaume de Machaut (who was in Reims during the English siege of 1359-60), and of mainly sacred, largely anonymous pieces written for the Avignon papal court, found in a manuscript at Ivrea, northern Italy.

Three sections of the mass from the Avignon repertoire showed how playful a composer could dare to be in the rebel papal court, rejoicing in devices like hocketing - the rapid exchange of notes between different voices, in their dancing upper lines. …

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