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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: 7 minutes 8 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)

Verbum bonum et suave
composer
6vv; incorrectly attributed to Josquin; first printed in Ottaviano Petrucci's Motetti de la corona, Fossombrone, 1519
author of text
Hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Other recordings available for download
The Binchois Consort, Andrew Kirkman (conductor)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In his monumental treatise Le istitutioni harmoniche (Venice, 1558), Gioseffo Zarlino recounts an anecdote about his teacher Adrian Willaert (c1490–1562). As the story is indicative of Willaert’s early career, it is worth quoting in full:

I shall now relate what I have heard said many times about the most excellent Adrian Willaert, namely, that a motet for six voices, Verbum bonum et suave, sung under the name of Josquin in the Papal Chapel in Rome almost every feast of Our Lady, was considered one of the most beautiful compositions sung in those days. When Willaert came from Flanders to Rome at the time of Leo X and found himself at the place where this motet was being sung, he saw that it was ascribed to Josquin. When he said that it was his own, as it really was, so great was the malignity or (to put it more mildly) the ignorance of the singers, that they never wanted to sing it again.

Different things can be said about this story, which was long thought to be apocryphal. What is of course most striking, is the claim that Willaert’s six-voice motet went under the name of Josquin des Prez, the princeps musicorum of his time. Needless to say, this serves to underline the extraordinary quality of the piece, which was first printed in Ottaviano Petrucci’s collection Motetti de la corona (Fossombrone, 1519). Verbum bonum et suave contains a canon between Tenor and Quintus, the melody of which is based on the eponymous plainchant. The motet displays a dense texture that is only interrupted at the beginning of the secunda pars: on ‘Ave, solem genuisti’ (the fourth strophe of the Marian hymn) a duet of upper voices is imitated by the lowest ones. The sudden reduction of the voices, the characteristic rising fourth on ‘Ave’ and the general layout of the melody make one wonder whether this passage was meant as a subtle musical and textual reference to Josquin’s Ave Maria … virgo serena, one of the composer’s most popular and best-known pieces.

from notes by Katelijne Schiltz © 2010


Other albums featuring this work
'Josquin: Josquin and his contemporaries' (CDA67183)
Josquin: Josquin and his contemporaries

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