One of my American friends asked me for a list of listening recommendations. She would like to get involved more with music and was wondering what the most essential pieces in the canon are. The idea was to come up with a list of approximately thirty titles which she could listen to and get to know a bit better over the period of a year or so.
Here is the first part of my list. It contains music that was composed up to ca. 1500. Whenever available I linked to the itunes store. This way you can buy the tracks directly if you are interested.
Please let me know what you think about my choice and how this list can be improved. (Use the commentary function below to do so). I am looking forward to hearing from you!
- Chant Wars by Dialogos and Sequentia. A compilation of chant that reflects the confrontation between newly emerging Carolingian repertoires and older local traditions in the 9th century.
- Viderunt omnes by Perotin. This is an example of early polyphony. A four-voice setting of the Christmas gradual by one of the great masters of the late 12th and early 13th centuries. Excellent performance by the Hilliard Ensemble.
- Messe de Nostre Dame by Guillaume de Machaut (ca. 1300 – 1377). A 14th-century setting of the Ordinary of the Mass (i. e. the unvarying chants that were used every day, unlike the Proper of the Mass which contained chants that were specific for a particular day).
- Chansons by Dufay. These wonderful “songs” are gems of Renaissance court culture. I especially like this recording by Bernhard Landauer, Michael Posch, and the Unicorn Ensemble, even though their performance would not satisfy the purists amongst the Early Music crowd. My favorite chansons are Helas mon dueil and Adieu ces bons vins de Lannoys but you should really listen to the whole album!
- Binchois: Chansons. I know it would probably make much more sense to choose some motets by Binchois instead of yet another set of chansons. However I love this album so much, that I cannot hold myself back and urge you to take a close “look” as well. My favorite song is En regardent vostre tres doulx maintiens.
- Josquin: Missa L’homme armé Sexti toni. An entire mass composed on the basis of a secular song.