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Hyperion Records

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Virgin and Mary Magdalen at the foot of the Cross, detail from the Isenheim Altarpiece (c1510/15) by Matthias Grünewald (c1480-1528)
Musée d’Unterlinden, Colmar, France / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67848
Recording details: March 2010
Merton College Chapel, Oxford, United Kingdom
Produced by Antony Pitts
Engineered by Justin Lowe
Release date: January 2011
Total duration: 8 minutes 41 seconds

'The setting of Mass for the Dead understandably gets top billing, for despite its modest scale and simplicity, it is an affecting piece, as its opening movements signally testify. The Brabant Ensemble sing this with admirable clarity, assisted by a very transparent acoustic and recorded sound image' (Gramophone)

'This is the second recording by The Brabant Ensemble devoted to Clemens … together they go some way to convincing us that he was one of the better composers of the 16th century … here we get good tuning and chordal singing that glows from within' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The disc admirably addresses a gap in the market with highly expressive performances of a beautiful requiem and a series of exquisitely crafted motets, which illustrate powerfully Clemens' great gift for both melody and harmonic adventurousness and intensity of expression' (Early Music Review)

'Sympathetically recorded and with excellent booklet notes by Rice, this is another fine release by an ensemble that could be seen as stemming from the same tradition as The Tallis Scholars, i.e a chamber choir bringing before the public little-known repertoire, the worth of which it passionately believes in. It does it every bit as well, too' (International Record Review)

Peccantem me quotidie
4vv; Liber quartus sacrarum cantionum, quatuor vocum (Antwerp: Susato, 1547). RISM 1547/6
author of text
Seventh Respond at Matins for the Dead

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Peccantem me quotidie was a popular choice of text for Renaissance composers, being set by Byrd, Lassus, and Palestrina among the great names of the later sixteenth century, as well as Clemens, his contemporaries Thomas Crecquillon and Pierre de Manchicourt, and numerous more obscure figures (Manchicourt’s setting has been recorded by The Brabant Ensemble on Hyperion CDA67604). The text, a Respond from the Office for the Dead, is treated in its correct liturgical form by Clemens, though there is no evidence that it was intended as part of a liturgical cycle. Just as in Tristitia et anxietas, Clemens appears to have focused his compositional energies partly on directly text-expressive manoeuvres, and partly on musical gestures. The former is exemplified by the opening rising fourth followed by a downward tone, a frequent mournful opening as found—to name but one place—in the ‘Emperor’s song’ Mille regretz attributed to Josquin Des Prez. A second instance is the text line ‘Miserere mei, Deus’ (‘Have mercy on me, God’) which concludes both sections, where the texture is rapidly thinned down to two voices in an open fifth, emphasizing the penitential utterance with a rising and falling semitone—another device of Josquin’s, found especially in his motet on the ‘Miserere’ text. Sonorous invention is heard just before this moment in the first section, where ‘quia in inferno’ (‘for in hell’) brings a sequence descending to the depths followed by a static setting of the word ‘nulla [est redemptio]’ (‘there is no [redemption]’). In the second section, conversely, Clemens composes a rare rising sequence for ‘libera me’ (‘free me’), each repetition taking five beats and therefore breaking the regular pulse as if the vocal line is discarding its rhythmic shackles.

from notes by Stephen Rice © 2010

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