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The new CD by Ligeriana comes as a formidable breath of fresh air.

Accustomed as we may be to recordings of medieval music that are ever more dramatic and at the same time ever more removed from reality (which seems to matter very little to some performers), the new CD by Ligeriana comes as a formidable breath of fresh air and a comprehensive lesson in medieval musicology and musical know-how. These Carmina Carolingiana include seven musical fragments, almost all of them from the IXth century, with a few qualifications. They bear no relationship to the liturgical fragments then in use, and rather belong to the extraordinary Latin-language poetic repertoire consisting of Versus, planctus, elegies and amateur epic chants that flourished in the main monasteries of the Carolingian empire as early as the mid-XIth century.

The first of these three manuscripts proves to be particularly important from a musical standpoint, as it is notated in neumes (musical signs) which allow the interpretation of the greater part of its repertoire. We have to bear in mind that, in the West, the system of neumatic notation is the offspring of what is known as the Carolingian Renaissance. A cursory glance at the contents of this manuscript allows us to glimpse at the difficulty of reviving a repertoire that amounts to a few neumes scattered on a poem, all the more as these neumes only indicate the relative pitch of the sounds fitted to the first stanza, and hardly any more.
It is quite obvious that a repertoire that can be thus characterized will have to rest on the strength of the verse, and hence of the spoken word. To be properly sung, the verse has to be duly reinvigorated, and there lies the touchstone of competence, or absence of competence, of the awareness or ignorance of what is made available to us, and of the deep respect for the material, or its ruthless treatment, when attempting to ressuscitate a unique heritage by the hands of its interpreters, and not the other way around, as so often happens. This is the personal achievement of Katia Caré, who has selected, transcribed and adapted this repertoire which is brought back to life by a narrator, a psalmist and a vocal ensemble, accompanying themselves with a selection of instruments (flutes and recorders, lyres, citole, organistrum).

Medievalia – Quarterly of the Independent University of Barcelona
Maricarmen Gómez Muntañé.