Gothic Voices, Christopher Page (conductor)
Our cover shows a young cleric, perhaps a student at the university of Paris, offering money to a girl who, to judge by the drum in her hand, is off to take part in a ring-dance, or carole. To the left stands a libidinous demon, while to their right a friar holds an open book of the Old Testament and raises his hand in warning. This Parisian picture is a fine emblem of the music on this record: the motet of the thirteenth century. Like the student and the girl, the motet of the years between 1200 and 1300 was caught between the lure of the secular and the summons of the sacred—between Heaven and Hell. Although it developed from the liturgical music of Paris, the motet form has come down to us with texts of every kind: some devout, some lascivious, some facetious, some wistfully romantic. The music, we may be sure, often has something in common with the songs of the ring-dances, the caroles.