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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: 5 minutes 56 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)

Magnificat sexti toni
4vv; alternatim, even verses polyphony, odd verses chant
author of text
Luke 1: 46-55

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Monte’s setting of the Magnificat in the sixth tone is, like most such canticles of this period, heavily indebted to the recitation tone to which the odd-numbered verses are chanted. Since the sixth tone begins on F, has its medial cadence on A, and returns to F at the end of the verse, the tonal outline of the polyphonic verses is in most cases similar to this template. The first verse gives a clear example, with the highest voice singing a slightly decorated version of the tone which cadences ‘in the minor’ at ‘spiritus meus’, then returns to the ‘tonic’ the first time this voice sings ‘salutari meo’: following this, the tenor repeats the chant phrase while the other three voices elaborate around it. The next two polyphonic verses adopt very similar strategies, but with markedly different textures, especially ‘Fecit potentiam’, where the opening phrase ‘He has shown the power’ is expressed with forceful chords. More variety is evident in the final two verses, where ‘Sicut locutus est’ is reduced to three voices by the omission of the highest, and the doxology breaks into a more expansive style, with running quavers to create a suitable climax. The entire Magnificat is extremely concise, yet displays a mastery of many polyphonic techniques in an idiom that is overall somewhat conservative—a microcosm of Monte’s compositional output, one might say.

from notes by Stephen Rice © 2008

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