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Black Madonna

Various Audio CD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 10.01 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Black Madonna + From Byzantium to Andalusia
Price For Both: CDN$ 19.62


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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Black Madonna is title, not artist July 5 2003
Format:Audio CD
I'm writing this in response to Nancy Moran's highly uninformed and inappropriate negative review of this CD. It is clear from her thoughts on the CD that she bought this disc with false expectations. Her misunderstanding, I think, stems from her confusion as to the CD's title - "Black Madonna" is not, as she seems to suppose, referring to the artist of the disc, but is a referance to the famous black madonna of Montserrat, worshipped by thousands of Spanish pilgrims in the early through mid centuries of the second millennium (and still worshipped today). This disc is by NO means an exploration of African-American culture, with which it has, obviously, no connection, and I think it was this confusion that lead to Ms. Moran's disappointment and general antipathy toward the disc. The CD is, of course, an exciting and near-perfect collection of Spanish mediaeval music, performed exquisitely by the always on target Ensemble Unicorn (one of the Naxos label's happiest discoveries). Anyone buying this CD thinking it's going to sound like jazz greats Nancy Wilson or Dinah Washington are bound to be disappointed.
But one thing puzzles me -- even after buying and listening to this CD, Ms. Moran seems to STILL have no idea what it's all about. Didn't she bother to read the CD booklet? Her review indicates that she is even still under the assumption that there is only ONE artist here (The "Black Madonna") and not a group or ensemble. I would suggest that she put her pre-conceptions aside, read the liner notes and try this disc again, it just might grow on her.
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By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
I'm not just some ignorant and rabid fan: I've surveyed hundreds of early music CDs in my time, and have performed a great deal of medieval music. I can assure you that Unicorn -- also known as Oni Wytars and Accentus -- is the best instrumental ensemble performing this repertory. Hands down. They rarely appear on critics' golden lists, but that's because most early music critics (and performers) are desiccated scholars and not impassioned musicians. The only reason this CD isn't perfect (unlike "Codex Faenza", which is flawless in every respect) is that the arrangements are less than historical. In medieval monophonic music, rule no. 1 about song accompaniment is that the instrumentalist must NEVER draw attention away from the voice -- go crazy with preludes and interludes, but be VERY discreet during actual singing. Since Unicorn is concerned primarily with the emotive and evocative capabilities of its instruments, it tends toward the densely orchestrated (but not to the absurd extremes of, for instance, Philip Pickett). Such an approach is not historically justified in most cases, but I'd be a desiccated scholar if I didn't reassure y'all that this CD is one hell of a fun ride.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Oct. 8 1999
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
I don't know how I came across this cd, but I am grateful that the gods led me to it. I was very much surprised and pleased by the extraordinary quality of the performances; but, Belinda Sykes' voice and interpretations simply 'floored' me. How can one describe it? One can't! You'd have to listen to it for yourself...and then you'd probably wonder, like I do, why there aren't more recordings featuring this truly incredible and unique singer. This music is a real pleasure to listen to. One can almost sense the times in it; i.e., it is not just a historical record or reconstruction, but, to my ears at least, has a dimension and feeling of accumulating space.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enthusiastic and vigorous performances Dec 8 2000
Format:Audio CD
This is one of the better early music performances I have heard on disc.

The material is pilgrim songs and trouvere material from a manuscript in Catalonia. The performers adapt this music freely, adding instrumental parts; and attack these simple songs in stanza forms with freedom and glee.

Belinda Sykes' voice, in particular, carries this record off. What comes off this disc, mostly, is -enthusiasm-; I haven't heard an early music record that was this much fun to listen to since the Binkley -Carmina Burana-.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Passion and Spirituality May 28 2004
Format:Audio CD
Having a fair collection of religious and medieval music, this CD really stands out. The voices are superb, the instruments spot on, and by closing my eyes, I can just imagine the pilgrims taking up the refrains, while slowly making their way up the rocky slope to the sanctuary of Montserrat (yes, I've been there, and the Black Madonna is very special). Of particular note is the passion , the fervor and the vigor that is transmitted to the listener. I highly recommend this CD
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5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible July 20 2000
Format:Audio CD
I picked this up because I am interested in the Black Madonnas of Southern Europe and Medieval history in general. I also like "early music." This CD was an incredible surprise. The quality of the singing and musicianship is amazing. The Islamic influences in early European music are really brought out here. I can't recommend this more highly although it is probably not for the casual listener. But if you are curious, you can't beat the price!
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