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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: 3 minutes 18 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)

Ultimi miei sospiri
composer
6vv; canzona by Lodovico Martelli
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The madrigal Ultimi miei sospiri by Philippe Verdelot is among the finest and best-known secular pieces of the earlier part of the sixteenth century. As one of the early pioneers of the madrigal, Verdelot was also among the first to compose examples of the genre for as many as six parts, a texture which offers significant opportunities for contrast between high and low groups of voices, or other combinations. Such techniques form a major part of the text-setting strategy of this generation of madrigalists, with the text-obscuring properties of imitative counterpoint offset by the chance to re-hear the same words sung by another group of voices. Although madrigals of the 1520s do not approach the levels of chromaticism seen later in the century, the idiom is nonetheless highly expressive, due to these composers’ command of textual accent (impressively, since the majority of them, including Verdelot, were not native Italian speakers), and of tessitura. An instance of the latter is found in Ultimi miei sospiri at ‘Dite, o beltà infinita’ (‘Speak, O infinite beauty’) where the change of voice from narrative to interlocution is marked with a new entry on the highest pitch yet heard. Verdelot’s artistry is again observable towards the end of the piece where the long notes of ‘Tornat’in me’ (‘return to me’) appear to be guiding the music towards a peaceful ending, but a final effort at energetic movement is made on ‘ch’io non vorrò morire’, as the narrator rages against the dying of the light.

from notes by Stephen Rice © 2008

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