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Modern Medieaval Cruisaders

img  Tobias

There's two prejudices about medieval vocal music. The first is that is the territory of philosophy students with a knack for talking latin over their herbal tea, while dressing up as craftsmen and maids from the 14th Century. Or, to put it more blunt, that it is both boring and quixotic. Amarcord from Leipzig are one of the most impressive examples to the contrary.

First of all, take their homepage, which must be one of the best we've seen for a very long time. There's an up-to-date and personal news section, biographical information, an extensive discography with free sample-downloads for each album, an impressive collection of articles from and links to the press as well as two sympathetic picture galleries documenting concert journeys to Russia and Romania. You can come back to this space again and again and finde something new each time. Apart from that, you can read it all in German, English and French - how's that for Internationalism?

Then, most importantly, there's the music. The ensemble has developed a distinct, powerful and extremely dense sound, which nicely differs from the etherial approach taken by most other groups. It has also extended into modern repertoire, most noticably on its 2002 disc "And so it goes", without becoming bland. In this respect, their debut album was a statement of intent: "Insalata a Capella" ventured into every style imaginable, offered ballads, madrigals, chansons, folk songs and spirituals without bowing down to commercial pressure. The Quintet has also performed commissioned pieces by modern composers such as Bernd Franke, Ivan Moody and Dimitri Terzakis and integrated dance into its performances to great acclaim and success.

Two things have helped in acchieving this outstanding position: The individual members' background in the world-renowned Thomanerchor and their close relationship with the apollon-label. Together with apollon, they have released four CDs and walked the stony roads to fame together. Their work should now come to full fruition as Amarcord prepares for both "Incessament" and "Nun komm der Heiden Heiland". While the first album takes a dive in the Renaissance-repertoire of Pierre de la Rue (known as a poliphony-master and arguably the "leading composer at the court of Burgundy in the 15th Century), the latter brings christmas tunes from before 1600 and relief to all those who have had enough of "Jingle Bells" or worse. It is said to be a combination of some well-known pieces and long-forgotten treaures from the hands of long-forgotten composers and raises our hopes that December could be a wonderful month after all.

The recent deal of apollon records with excellent German record outfit Raumklang, who will now be responsible of distributing their products, should allow Amarcord to spread their message on an even wider basis. It shouldn't be long then, until the second prejudice against medieval vocal music is dismissed: That it is only suitable for wintertime.

Homepage: Amarcord
Homepage: Raumklang
Homepage: Biographical Information about Pierre de la Rue

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