Saint Louis: Chroniques et musiques du XIIIe siècle
Ensemble Vocal de Notre-Dame de Paris, Sylvain Dieudonné
Maîtrise Notre Dame de Paris. 006. 72’35
Louis IX of France was crowned aged 12, and remained on the throne until his death some 44 years later. Despite many border disputes and land exchanges, and conflicts with both his own nobles and foreign powers, including his brother in law, Henry III of England, France managed to become one of the most powerful European states. He was an arts enthusiast and a legal reformer. A devote Catholic, he went on two unsuccessful crusades to Egypt (where he allied himself with the Mongolian Khans) and Tunis, where he died. His enduring memorials are Paris’s Sorbonne and Saint-Chapelle, one of the finest Gothic architectural creations of all time. He is the only French King to be canonised as Saint Louis.
This CD stems from a performance on the 800th anniversary of Saint Louis’s birth (on 25 April 1214) by Ensemble Vocal de Notre-Dame de Paris, given in the church of Saint-Louis Poissy. The performers are all part of the Maîtrise Notre Dame de Paris, the recently former organisation (but with roots in the 12th century) responsible for all things musical in Notre Dame. The music, sacred and secular, reflects the transition from the late 12th century Notre Dame school and the Ars Nova of the 14th century. Interspersed are spoken texts from sources close to Louis’s time on his the life and influence. English translations of the spoken French, and all the vocal works, are included in the notes.
The singers are drawn from the adult choir of La Maîtrise Notre Dame de Paris and the Ensemble Vocal de Notre-Dame de Paris together with four instrumentalists, playing flutes, recorders, mute cornets, gothic harp, vièle and percussion. The singing is attractive, the instrumental accompaniment well judged.