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Hyperion Records

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Winter by Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-1593)
Private Collection, © Agnew's, London / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67658
Recording details: August 2007
Wallfahrtskirche, St Wolfgang bei Weitra, Austria
Produced by Stephen Rice
Engineered by Markus Wallner
Release date: May 2008
Total duration: 23 minutes 1 seconds

'The music is beautifully performed and well worth a listen; Monte's settings are full of variety and fruity chromaticisms, and Cinquecento more than does him justice' (Choir & Organ)

'Their performances make it clear that Monte is a composer of distinction' (BBC Music Magazine)

'An enticing snapshot of [Monte's] musical personality. Detailed word-painting and an imaginatively dramatic response to his texts' changing moods are displayed in pieces such as Ad te levavi and Miserere mei' (The Daily Telegraph)

'An impassioned and beautiful performance by Cinquecento … the exceptional blend of voices and unified approach to phrasing augur well for their future as great interpreters of Renaissance music … a marvellous affinity for Monte … they have no need of a conductor to achieve lovely long phrases full of warmth and life … the individual voices are all lovely, and the countertenors float above the texture without dominating it' (Early Music Review)

'An unusually gifted ensemble, both vocally and musically … here is a group whose tone, vocal flexibility, collective and individual musicianship and commitment to their chosen repertoire places them at the very forefront of modern-day specialists in the performance of Renaissance vocal music … a disc which is not only a real treat to the ears but a most valuable and worthwhile exposé of little-known repertoire … unfailingly compelling and absorbing performances … it is the Mass which, at 25 minutes, dominates the disc and shows most obviously the many strengths of this outstanding vocal ensemble … at the start of the Kyrie, for example, we have a layered texutre the subtle balance of which, while seeming entirely natural, must have taken a great deal of effort to achieve. As it unfolds there is the impression of clouds parting to reveal a vast landscape as viewed from a montain top, a sense of spaciousness and a grandeur which is profoundly moving. This is a veritable jewel of a disc' (International Record Review)

'Beautifully blended sound by a young pan-European vocal sextet, rich with character and individuality in rare 16th-century polyphony' (Classic FM Magazine)

Missa Ultimi miei sospiri
author of text
Ordinary of the Mass

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Verdelot’s madrigals (and indeed motets) make eminently suitable models for the imitation Mass genre that dominated the later sixteenth century. As formulated by the theorist Pietro Cerone, writing in 1613, the essence of this technique is to transplant sections of polyphony into crucial moments of one’s Mass setting, more or less in the order that they appear in the model. This represents only part of the spectrum of borrowing techniques used in the century preceding Cerone’s remark: thematic transformation, juxtaposition of polyphonic sections in quite different ways, recomposition of imitative counterpoint, all found their place in the sixteenth-century imitation Mass. Monte’s technique in his Missa Ultimi miei sospiri does however resemble that described by the theorist: each Mass movement begins with a version of the madrigal’s opening, albeit slightly varied. Elsewhere he is relatively sparing in the use of borrowed material: examples include ‘Domine Deus’ (‘Lord God’) in the Gloria, which adapts ‘Dal tuo fedel’’ (‘that your faithful one’) from the madrigal, and ‘per quem omnia facta sunt’ (‘through him all things were made’) in the Credo, taking the phrase ‘Gitene ratt’in ciel’’ (‘go swiftly to heaven’). This latter phrase is also recast in triple time to form the basis of the Osanna.

In common with many of his contemporaries, Monte divides his Mass movements into formal subsections. The ‘Et incarnatus’ section of the Credo is one example: here the solemnity of the words is underlined by a full, slow chordal texture, followed by a brief upper-voice section for the ‘Crucifixus’. Another division separates the Christological section of the Credo with that dealing with the Holy Spirit and the Church: the latter is notable for its syncopated figures, a compositional device that adds to the vigour of this largely joyful final section. It also injects a certain madrigalian feeling to the movement, though such syncopation is in fact absent from Verdelot’s model.

from notes by Stephen Rice © 2008

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