World-renowned vocal ensemble Gothic Voices, celebrated 25 years with its first appearance on Avie – the first recording of the complete works of Solage, the leading composer of the ars subtilior in late 14th century France and yet one about whom virtually nothing is known – not even his first name. The CD’s title, The Unknown Lover, reflects the composer’s anonymity, together with the fact that all twelve of Solage’s songs are love-songs. They are perfectly paired with the seven ars nova style songs by his earlier French contemporary Guillaume de Machaut, which provide a sorbet-like contrast and variety of texture to the richness and complexity of Solage’s output.
Any information about Solage’s life can only be surmised from the texts of his songs. Judging from the dedication of S’aincy estoit, it appears he was active in the court of Jean, Duc de Berry, during the 1380s and 90s, and from the virtuosity required by works such as Corps feminin we can safely assume that his music was mainly composed for professional musicians. The extremes of Solage’s rhythmic and chromatic experimentation, as in Fumeux fume par fumee, are some of the most challenging that Gothic Voices has ever encountered, making full use of the singers’ considerable experience and expertise.
Gothic Voices secured their place in recording history with A Feather on the Breath of God, one of the best-selling early music recordings ever made which launched a veritable worldwide Hildegard von Bingen industry. 20 further recordings followed, as did numerous awards and critical acclaim. Avie is delighted to welcome them to the label with this extraordinary and virtuostic music.