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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67596
Recording details: September 2004
Merton College Chapel, Oxford, United Kingdom
Produced by David Skinner
Engineered by Justin Lowe
Release date: June 2006
Total duration: 2 minutes 36 seconds

'A gem of a CD' (Gramophone)

'A superbly balanced and expressive performance by the Brabant Ensemble shows the work to great advantage' (Early Music Review)

'The performances are excellent; supported by the well-captured acoustic of Merton College, Oxford, the singers negotiate the often highly imitative textures with great fluency. Well-shaped phrasing, good balance and generally subtle dynamic inflexions further contribute to the beauty of the sound … these are really very fine performances of rarely heard music' (International Record Review)

'Apart from the group's accomplished vocal work, the strong point of this disc is the profound understanding that is conveyed in the notes by Martin Ham. We can expect more of this repertoire from the group. But don't wait to get this one, for it is neatly organized and beautifully sung' (Fanfare, USA)

'This recording sets an example of how things should be done … a programme that is both intellectually and musically attractive' (Goldberg)

'An unqualified delight' (MusicWeb International)

'Throughout this recording the choir demonstrates the exceeding beauty of Crecquillon’s music. At certain moments it sears the soul so that one can hardly stand to listen to it, like too bright a light makes one want to close [one's] eyes. What could possibly be more fitting for a discussion of death and everlasting life?' (Sacred Music, USA)

'Le chef et musicologue anglais révèle un rare talent de découvreur. Construire un programme autour de Mort m'a privé est une idée merveilleuse' (Diapason, France)

Mort m'a privé a 4
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The text that Crecquillon set is highly unusual: it is one that speaks of loss in very personal terms rather than in the conventionalities of the day. The emphasis in this text on patience and submission to God’s will precisely mirrors Charles’s letter to his brother following Isabella’s death. The reference to ‘great ancestry’ fits Charles well too: his family tree was littered with Biblical Patriarchs, minor saints and mythological figures; Charles’s reliance on Isabella as a confidante and his distraught reaction to her death are also reflected in this verse. The whole stanza seems to have been written specifically to reflect his state of mind after Isabella’s death—he himself may even have penned it, although we cannot be sure.

Crecquillon’s two settings of this text in themselves seem designed to be emblematic of the Imperial couple, the five-voice setting representing Charles and the four-voice one Isabella. These settings are in different modes, something that would have carried a particular resonance in itself at the time but which is difficult for the modern listener to recapture—the mode for Charles’s version would have had overtones of homage and respect, whilst that for Isabella would have carried intimations of sorrow and loss; the difference in the number of voices also speaks of the respective difference in status. Despite the difference of mode, there is a very subtle musical link between the two works, significantly in the setting of the words ‘divine will’. The bass, or ‘ground’, in this fragment of music in the five-voice version is the same as the uppermost voice carrying the same words in the other setting, suggesting that Isabella was the ground of Charles’s happiness.

from notes by Martin Ham © 2006

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