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Hyperion Records

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Portrait of Adrian Willaert by An unknown artist (18th century)
Museo internazionale e biblioteca della musica di Bologna
Track(s) taken from CDA67749
Recording details: June 2009
Wallfahrtskirche, St Wolfgang bei Weitra, Austria
Produced by Adrian Peacock
Engineered by Markus Wallner
Release date: June 2010
Total duration: 1 minutes 56 seconds

'A dissonant motet on drunkenness and a hymn to the Holy Shroud … are among the treasures here, sung by the accomplished ensemble Cinquecento … a stimulating disc' (The Observer)

'A disc which combines one of the finest vocal ensembles in Europe currently at the height of its power with the richly scored and constantly inventive music of Adrian Willaert promises to be a revelation … the singing throughout is superbly blended, nuanced, tuned and expressive' (Early Music Review)

'A beautifully conceived and immaculately realised sequence, sung with simple directness by the six male voices of Cinquecento' (The Guardian)

'The magnificent Missa Mente tota … a tour de force … the fluidity and flexibilty of Cinquecento's sound means that every melodic line of the work is audible … their placement of chords, too, is absolutely precise, but the precision and suavity never come at the cost of passion—these singers know how to make abstruse polyphony sound genuinely exciting … this is a very fine disc indeed; I suspect that if Willaert could hear it he might think that he'd found his ideal performers' (International Record Review)

Quid non ebrietas?
composer
4vv
author of text
Epistulae I, 5: 16-19

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Quid non ebrietas? is an early composition of Willaert’s. Its experimental nature has not only caused lively musicological debate, but the work was already subject to polemic at Willaert’s time. In a letter of May 1524, the Bolognese theorist Giovanni Spataro reports that Willaert had sent the work to Pope Leo X, whose singers had not been capable of deciphering and performing it. Quid non ebrietas? is indeed intended as a musical puzzle. The text is based on a passage in Horace’s Epistulae I, 5 and concerns the ‘miracle of drunkenness’, which ‘unlocks secrets’ (‘operta recludit’) and ‘teaches skills’ (‘addocet artes’). These words seem to have inspired Willaert to a compositional tour de force. The notation suggests that the work ends on a seventh D–E, which would have caused intolerable dissonance. However, Willaert conceived the Tenor in such a way that it runs through the complete circle of fifths via the successive addition of flats. This means that the final note E should actually be sung as E double flat, or D. Willaert’s Quid non ebrietas? can thus be considered a major contribution to the development of equal temperament.

from notes by Katelijne Schiltz © 2010

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