Mediaeval Magic CD



The European Mediæval world has long captured the imaginations of later generations. Legends of chivalry, love, piety and honour colour our picture of the Mediæval world – a world which is romanticised, idealised and even blended with mythology. The strong emotions and images of the period create a fascination in us, and the music of the period transports us to this magical time.

Why the interest in what is so long past? The ‘nostalgia industry’ plunders a past that is now so recent as to be merely a backward echo of the present. Why go back further? Why does Lumina trek back to the limits of our knowledge of European formal music practice? The answer can be indicated very roughly as follows, perhaps: to know where and what you are, you are helped by having a good idea of where and what you have come from; and knowing where you are is an essential basis for moving hopefully to where and what you might be. Stravinsky put his finger on the artistic and musical implication when he responded to critics of Pulcinella, a work that used and re-arranged 18th-century music. He suggested that those criticising him saw the old music as ‘dead’, whereas for him it was a continuing and contributing part of a living stream. It brings life to our world, and clarifies the world of our lives.

Lumina, like many musicians and musical groups today, lives by this somewhat indefinable sense of tradition. As modern composers have moved along in a somewhat uncertain progress since Stravinsky’s heyday, much study and skill has been devoted to tapping the life of the significant musical tradition supporting them. Lumina works at the earlier frontiers, but even there more than enough material can be found to make selection a problem, and to raise the issue of what is ‘enough’. However, the assumption behind our ever-new tradition of performing this music is that the more people come to know of this world, the more this world will be known and appreciated as part of a linked whole – as part of the world. Sometimes the effort seems straightforwardly appreciated, and successful in that sense, as when Steeleye Span’s Gaudete, Christus est natus carol swamped the popular radio channels more than thirty years ago. But a happy accident (more than a flash in the Span?) will come about because a lot of people are involved in patient long-term quiet efforts in all sorts of ways and places. Lumina may be seen as belonging at the noisier end of these quiet efforts.

In Mediaeval Magic there is on offer a dual-aspect panorama, presenting music from key episodes in the five hundred years after 1150 or thereabouts, but also presenting music from present day composers (including Lumina’s own composers). Our aim is thus to show tradition as a living and creative force.

Bernard Mageean

Price: $20.00