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Carolingian music at the Cluny museum (Paris)
The Ligeriana ensemble has revived epic chants from the era of Charlemagne at the national museum of the Middle Ages in Paris. A Carolingian Renaissance? The word, indeed, is not improperly used, as it refers to a body of works written in Latin, though they still remain outside the boundaries of the liturgical domain and deserve to be reexamined in their own light.
Hence, this was definitely a Renaissance, as early as the late 8th century. A Renaissance that can be credited to the clerics and monks that Charlemagne and his successors had commissioned to preserve and circulate the works of Latin Antiquity. As stated by Guy Lobrichon, a subtle exegete of the aforementioned documents, the scholars of the time read and copied: Virgil, Ovid, Horace and Terence, stimulated as they were by the intellectual environment of the era.
As such, the 9th century shines out in the history of artistic creation, since it was able to create an impulse that was highly conducive to the rise of a specifically Western culture. It led to the development of a new humanism, at last emancipated from a Byzantine Orientalism that inconveniently stood in the way of the renewal of Latin culture.
The Ligeriana ensemble, directed by Katia Caré, who is highly conversant with this pristine, early repertoire, has been entrusted with this exhumation work that dramatizes events and characters mostly connected with the Carolingian empire: let us mention, among others, the Lamentation on the death of Charlemagne (Incipit planctus Karoli) or the destruction by fire of the monastery of Saint-Florent as highlights of this evocation, backed up by neumatic notation (to which a CD recording, "Carmina Carolingiana", released under the Ligia label, also bears witness).
In short, let us here congratulate the mediaevalists on their patient labour of love as well as the performers on their uncommon skills, from the ardent vocal colours of Pierre Bourhis and Guillaume Edé to the winged chant of the three ladies.
La Lettre du Musicien, Roger Tellart