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Hyperion Records

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The Dead Christ (c1480-1490) by Andrea Mantegna (c1431-1506)
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan / Alinari / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67959
Recording details: August 2010
Kloster Pernegg, Waldviertel, Austria
Produced by Colin Mason
Engineered by Markus Wallner
Release date: August 2012
Total duration: 2 minutes 44 seconds

'Not only do the performances here range from genuine tenderness … to majestic splendour, but the balance is perfect and the melodic lines are absolutely clear, so that every detail of Richafort's remarkable contrapuntal writing can be heard … the other works on the disc are given similarly wonderful performances … Cinquecento's imploring rendition of the masterpiece that is Miserere mei, Deus is surely perfect in the way it balances a profound understanding, and projection, of its intricate counterpoint with its vast melodic sweep … if I could nominate this recording as 'Outstanding' twice over, I would do, for I have run out of superlatives. It is, quite simply, sublime' (International Record Review)

'Cinquecento's sound has a magic of its own' (Gramophone)

'Cinquecento give a more finely blended and balanced performance than I have yet heard from them, with spacious legato lines, breadth of vision and appreciation of the architecture and majestic solemnity of Richafort's 6-part polyphony, framed by gorgeous works by Josquin, his probable master. Vividly sung and recorded' (Choir & Organ)

'Musically inspired by Josquin, this is a majestic, expansive requiem … the shades of mourning are illuminated by moments of light and serenity—glimpses of a sublime hereafter. Cinquecento captures the work's meditative quality to profound effect, the all-male vocal ensemble creating an aptly plangent sonority and a tone of high seriousness … the group can also produce all the opulence and bloom of a much larger ensemble. Throughout, the singing is exquisitely controlled: arching polyphonic lines are beautifully shaped, textural contrasts subtly enhanced, never over-dramatised, and the voices—silken and effortless—seem to be suspended in amber' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Stephen Rice’s authoritative booklet notes are a valuable resource when it comes to placing the music in its historical context and delving further into the complexities of its creation, but the expressive warmth and sonority of Cinquecento’s voices, superbly recorded, are the source to which you will want to return for more and more. Superbly unified, the dynamic shading which brings forth leading voice lines and gently points to significant harmonic shifts are done so naturally that the music seems to enter your soul through some kind of osmosis rather than something so banal as mere listening' (MusicWeb International)

Nymphes, nappés / Circumdederunt me
composer
6vv
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The ‘Circumdederunt’ plainsong was at one time thought of as ‘a favourite cantus firmus of Josquin’s’ (Gustave Reese, Music in the Renaissance), due to its being used in three compositions attributed to him. Two of these—like so many works—have now been convincingly removed from the Josquin canon, leaving only Nymphes, nappés as an authentic work incorporating this melody. Richafort’s debt to Josquin becomes clear from the seventeenth breve onwards, where the cantus firmus enters, followed three breves later—just as in the Requiem—by its accompanying voice at the upper fifth. Indeed John Milsom, who demonstrated the inauthenticity of the other two pieces, pointed out that Richafort quotes not only the canonic cantus firmus, but also several bars of polyphony from Nymphes, nappés in the Introit and Kyrie of the Requiem. Its counterpoint is highly suitable for such treatment, being full of the static harmony, twisting melodic lines, and falling third intervals which are characteristic of Josquin’s style in mournful pieces of this type.

from notes by Stephen Rice © 2012

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