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Hyperion Records

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La Vie Seigneuriale: Scene Galante (c1500).
Musée national du Moyen Âge et des Thermes de Cluny, Paris / Giraudon / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67913
Recording details: August 2012
The Church of St Michael and All Angels, Summertown, Oxford, United Kingdom
Produced by Antony Pitts
Engineered by Phil Rowlands
Release date: August 2013
Total duration: 7 minutes 9 seconds

'Cipriano de Rore is best known today as one of the finest exponents of the madrigal but his sacred output deserves to be better known … Rore's contrapuntal writing, though considerably intricate at times, has a lucidity that the Brabant Ensemble's light sound emphasises' (Gramophone)

'A splendid selection of sacred works … The Brabant Ensemble is very experienced in this type of repertory, and achieves some magical effects in the Doulce mémoire Mass … of the motets O altitudo divitiarum is a truly outstanding and moving work. It is performed with delicacy and sensitivity to phrasing' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Rore's mellifluous use of polyphony, fluently articulated here by The Brabant Ensemble, fuels textures that are ear-catchingly active as well as expressive … a programme that strays appealingly off the Renaissance's beaten track' (The Daily Telegraph)

'It's the three motets between the Masses, two of them contemplative settings of words by St Paul, the third a celebration of the nativity, that make the bigger impression, and show off both the Brabant's care with the weighting of every word and the perfect balance they achieve between the voice parts' (The Guardian)

'The two-voices-per-part approach of The Brabant Ensemble is an excellent solution and, as usual, delivers ravishing results. The singing is lithe, pure, beautifully focused and, under Rice's expert direction, perfectly responsive to every musical inflection … another recording to treasure' (International Record Review)

'De Rore's is music of great self-confidence, conviction and beauty. The lines are varied yet express a concentration that makes for compelling listening. The harmonies are clear but at the same time embellish the composer's highly original ideas. The adherence of the melodies to the spirit of the texts is remarkable. It informs our listening with a fresh and binding integrity. Stephen Rice … has established a fine momentum in bringing these composers to our attention with the aptly-named Brabant Ensemble. Their singing is remarkably sensitive to the crystalline substance of the music of this era. Yet it is the substance, and not the veneer, that they address with every new release. There have been almost a dozen so far. The singers' tempi are gentle and finely-tuned though never sluggish. There is also a real sense that the dozen or so singers of the Ensemble, which was founded in 1998 and has recorded for Hyperion since 2006, are not recreating the music; still less reluctantly infusing it with new life. They are inhabiting it and performing something vibrant and robust. The Brabant Ensemble is also a true ensemble: the singers blend very well in all ways' (MusicWeb International)

'While there’s an austere beauty about the composer’s counterpoint, his treatment of the venerable Mass text is shot through with colourful contrasts of vocal texture, strategic silences and dramatic changes of mood' (Sinfini.com)

O altitudo divitiarum
composer
5vv; Il Terzo Libro di Motetti a Cinque Voci, published by Antonio Gardane in Venice in 1549
author of text
Romans 11: 33-36

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The motets O altitudo divitiarum and Fratres: Scitote both set words of St Paul, of a contemplative nature. The first is a meditation on the divinity and wisdom of God, which humans cannot fathom. The high imitative style of the Low Countries seems appropriate for such an elevated topic, with slow-moving suspensions and passing notes illustrating the difficulty with which our minds strive to comprehend the magnificence of the Almighty. Towards the end of the piece, the full texture is mustered for a concerted statement ‘For of him and through him …’ but counterpoint is thereafter reasserted until the final Amen. For once Rore’s technique is used in the service of a meditative rather than an exegetical response to the text.

from notes by Stephen Rice © 2013

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