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Southampton Research Project Brings Medieval Music to Life

Published: 15 January 2013
Conductus I album cover

A team from the University of Southampton’s Department of Music launches a recording of music not performed for 800 years. Singers John Potter, Christopher O’Gorman and Rogers Covey-Crump, directed by Professor Mark Everist have recorded 16 examples of a genre called the conductus – the first surviving and coherent repertory of newly-composed Latin song.

Working from original manuscripts, the singers and the rest of the project team succeeded in translating the often opaque and problematic medieval notation, and using them as a basis for a CD released in July 2012 by the most prestigious UK label, Hyperion Records.

The conductus sets poetry on subjects encompassing the paraliturgical, commentaries on the nature of truth as well as texts dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and saints. The music – over 800 surviving and performable works – is in one, two, three and (very rarely) four parts, and ranges from the simplest setting to structures of fearsome complexity.

The recording is the first of three to emerge from the £0.6m project ‘Cantum pulcriorem invenire: Medieval Latin Poetry and Song’, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The two subsequent CDs will be launched in July 2013 and 2014.

John Potter, Christopher O’Gorman, Rogers Covey-Crump, ‘Conductus 1: Music and Poetry of Thirteenth-Century France’. Hyperion, CDA67949, 2012

‘These are seriously classy performances’. The Gramophone

This new Hyperion disc … should reawaken interest in this beguiling repertory … delivers these explorations with unerring skill and conviction’. The Observer

‘John Potter, Christopher O'Gorman and Rogers Covey-Crump continue this trail-blazing voyage with a selection from the Conductus genre: the first experiments towards polyphonythe kind of sound we associate with Pérotin. Extensive booklet notes by Mark Everist probe into the intricacies of performance practice as well as analysing the music and poetry in context. This is an important historical document as well as a stunning and committed performance.’

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