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Monday, March 01, 2004
  Rondeau: De plus en plus
Gilles Binchois (ca. 1400-1460)
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 2 Tracks 26 and 27

More and more the themes of Binchois' rondeau renew. Sharing the gentle contenance angloise heard in the preceding Du Fay pieces, Mr. Binchois is kind to his listeners. As these pieces give evidence, the development into the Renaissance was a move away from music with less cooperative parts. Yet, the consideration toward easy listening did not go so far as to make the music predictable. It is the curious harmonic language of this piece that makes the repetitions engaging.

Although curious, the chords do not seem ungrounded or change quickly. In fact, the harmony seems firmly established. Somehow, it simply ends up somewhere other than expected. And, though we hear it often enough in the course of the poem, we are never sure how we end up where we do.

What I like about Mr. Binchois' contribution is his use of register. As the lines develop they have less contour, they flatten out, and move to a low register for this voice. This is effective for a rondeau in that, when we return to the start, our affection for arches is renewed. 

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In January 2004 I starting writing an opinion for each selection in the Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music. Now, more than a year later, I am almost finished. Soon, I will have an archive full of opinions on the music we so carelessly call "classical." And no one can stop me.

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Director of the Contemporary Performer's Workshop... Music Teacher for St. Aloysius Gonzaga School... Principal 'Cellist of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra... Composer

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