I would start with works released by the Harmonia Mundi label. Currently, a CLASSICS TODAY recommended release is "The Royal Lewthers - Music of Henry VIII & Elizabeth's Favorite Lutenists." One that I could recommend is "Missa Mexicana," recorded by the Harp Consort/Andrew Lawrence King. This is also a Harmonia Mundi release, but it represents music from the mid 17th century Hispanic baroque period. Still, the redbook CD's sound quality on the Missa is stunning and a SACD version is due soon.
I was listening to Manheim Steamroller's "Fresh Air III" the other day and my daughter told me it sounded medieval even though it obviously uses modern instruments with old world sounding instruments. I would call it modern medieval music. I consider this album to be very well recorded. The first track, "Tacotta" is a great demo track. You may already know about the "Fresh Air" series, but if you don't, it might be worth your time to check it out.
You absolutely *must* get a copy of *A Feather on the Breath of God* - a collection of sequences and hymns by Hildegard of Bingen (died ca. 1179). This is on the Hyperion Label (CDA66039) and features performances by a group called Gothic Voices (Emma Kirkby is the principal soprano).
This 1984 release is exceptionally well recorded. The music is simply sublime. You will love it!
Another Hyperion title featuring the Gothic Voices is: "The Spirits of England and France" (Hyperion CDA66783). This one features the works of Gilles Binchois and his contemporaries of the 14th and 15th centuries. A 1995 recording, with very good sonics and surreal, airy music.
Any recording of the Terra Nova Consort on Dorian Records.
The one called Renaissance en Provence is stunning.
I've played some tracks on this disc to demo systems at the HE2003 and a lot of people really liked them.
Along with Slipknot1, I would recommend the whole Gothic Voices series on Hyperion, as they specialize in the period you're looking for. I particularly like "The Earliest Songbook in England", but there are about 10 of interest, all with reasonably good sound. "The Spirits of England and France" is a 5-volume series (at least), the first 3 of which had just that title, and the last 2 had subtitles of polyphonic masses.
MA Recordings has several early Spanish volumes, all with MA's recording quality: "Danzas Medievales Espanolas"," Calamus", "Salterio" (not quite as good sound), and if you go into the 15th century, "Mudejar".
On a Veritas label - "Les Premieres Polyphonies Francaises XI Siecle", by the Ensemble Gilles Binchois.
Certain of Anonymous 4 recordings, e.g. "Miracles of Santiago", and also several of Jordi Savall's recordings cover Spanish music of this period.
Some good recommendations have already been posted. In addition to the Hildegard von Bingen recording on Hyperion (a must have) and the general recommendation to consider anything on the Harmonia Mundi label that strikes your interest, I'll offer the following specific recommendations from my LP collection that are superb both musically and sonically (you'll have to see if they are available on CD if that is your preference):
If you like music of medieval Spain, try anything by Gregorio Paniagua (dir.) and the Atrium Musicae de Madrid. For me, all of the following are "must have":
* La Spagna (Bis)
* Musique Arabo-Andalouse (Harmonia Mundi)
* Tarantelle (Harmonia Mundi)
* Villancisos (Harmonia Mundi)
* La Folia (longterm audiophile favorite; rollicking good fun and a bit bizarre) (Harmonia Mundi)
Performances by the Clemencic Consort on Harmonia Mundi are wonderful. I particularly value:
* Camina Burana (from the original manuscript, in 5 volumes on LP. Vol. 5 is my favorite, or choose the highlights disc)
* Dances Anciennes de Hongrie
* Dances Du Moyen-Age
* La fete de l'ane (Feast of the Ass)
Other miscellaneous recordings that are excellent and well worth seeking out include:
* The Dante Troubadours, Martin Best (Nimbus)
* Troubadour Songs and medieval Lyrics, Hillier (Hyperion)
* Songs & Dances 1200 to 1550, Kalenda Maya (Simax)
* Music of the Four Seasons, Joculatores Upsalienses (Bis)
* Early Music at Wik, Joculatores Upsalienses (Bis)
* Skogen, Flickan och Flaskan (Woods Women and Wine), Joculatores Upsalienses (Bis)
* Worcester Fragments,Stevens/AccademiaMoteverdiana (Turnabout)
* Sumer is icumen in - chants medievaux anglais, Hilliard Ensemble (Harmonia Mundi)
Good luck in your continuing exploration of ancient music!
Between Flex's and Rushton's recommendations, you got yourself a very comprehensive list. They nailed it!. La Spagna is a bit hard to find since it's out-of-print.
If you're interested in 12th century French polyphony in addition to secular music, another well-known cd from Harmonia Mundi is "The Age of Cathedrals", with Paul Hillier and the Theatre of voices.
Another to consider, also on Dorian, is "Echoes of Spain" a disc of medieval Spanish and Portuguese by Sonus
There is always Steeleye Span who did English medieval sounding (maybe authentic) stuff back in the 1970's. "Parcel of Rogues" and "Storm Force Ten" are two that I have but haven't listened to in 20 years. I recall enjoying the former.
Great thread, thanks for the recommendations (well, those besides Manheim Steamroller and Steeleye Span...) - I always said the Enlightenment killed music :-)
I am huge fan of early music. There is a wealth of well recorded and performed examples available. Along with Dorian and Harmonia Mundi, the Astree and Alia Vox labels featuring Jordi Savall and others, the Sony (Rolf Erichson produced) recordings of the Huelegas Ensemble, the Seon (Rolf Erichson's own label now owned and distributed by Sony) recordings of various rennaisance and baroque luminaries such as Sigiswald Kujiken, the Arcana label (produced by Michel Bernstein), and the Musica Oscura label all are world class in repotiore, performance and sound. There is even a reference quality gem on the Naxos label (Praetorius-Dances from Terpsichore) recorded by Bengt Alving. Also, give Sylvan and Oceanic Delights of Popsillo (L'Oiseau Lyre label) a try as well. Enjoy! To my ears, early music is the perfect blending of color, rhythm, texture, spirit, dance and invention. Tip....the Berkshire Record Outlet and Allegro online regularly have closeout cd's from many of thes labels.
MA recordings, CALAMUS and "Splendor Of Al-Andaluz" and Begona Olavide "Salterio". Medieval Andalusian (Spanish) music, from 12th thru 14th Century. Available also in "Gold CD" and LP's.
Sequentia is another group on the Harmonia Mundi label that has specializied in medieval music for 25 years, excellent recordings and performances. And they have a wbesite http://www.sequentia.org/
There's a great site for early music beginners.
Good web resources include:http://earlymusic.org
Plenty of information and links! I also like the early music radio programme "Harmonia" broadcast from IU. Web site:http://www.indiana.edu/~harmonia
Thanks for the responses! It looks as a quite comprehensive list now...
BTW, what about contemporary music based on medieval? Any good findings?
Interesting thread and it appears a genre worth looking into. Could anyone tell me if Return To Forever's Romantic Warrior has any characteristics that may be considered medieval?
Special thanks to Flex and Eldragon - MA recording is just a treasure! :) Rare music with rare quality.
contemporary based on medival
some Jethro Tull
Fresh Air 2, 3
some Steve Hackett
I would add Dead Can Dance-Aion- and Stoa-Porta VIII-.
Just about anything by Jordi Savall is worth listening to, both instrumental and vocal. The recording quality is usually very good as well.
I don't know if this qualify, but anyway- Ritchie Blackmore's Blackmore's Knight. I have four of their recordings and recently saw them live in concert- absolutely stunning. Regards.