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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67604
Recording details: September 2005
Merton College Chapel, Oxford, United Kingdom
Produced by Jeremy Summerly
Engineered by Justin Lowe
Release date: April 2007
Total duration: 10 minutes 52 seconds

'A must-have disc from the Brabant Ensemble … first-rate music stirs this young ensemble to their finest disc yet' (Gramophone)

'This well-selected collection places Manchicourt firmly on the musical map. The centrepiece of the recording, the Cuidez vous mass, is an inspired choice. From the clamorous lines of the opening Kyrie with their spicy harmonic clashes, through the superbly portrayed dramas of the Credo, and into the quieter realms of the Sanctus and Agnus Dei, this choir is never less than energised and sure-footed … moving and compelling' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The brilliant Easter exultation of Regina caeli is created by Manchicourt's ingenious combination of intricate canonic writing with exciting syncopated rhythms … the Brabant Ensemble's committed and responsive performances' (The Daily Telegraph)

'I was amazed … there is really excellent music here' (Early Music Review)

'Though only a few recordings of Manchicourt's music have appeared over the past decade or so, this one is a significant addition … for its contrasting interpretive aesthetic' (American Record Guide)

'From the ecstatic opening bars of the Regina caeli, which begins the recital, to the more austere grandeur of Manchicourt’s only setting of the Magnificat, with which it closes, there is not a less than thrilling moment on the whole disc. Non-experts will scarcely be aware of the hyper-refined contrapuntal techniques, daring use of dissonance and cross-relations, interspersed with passages of telling homophony; they will simply be swept along by the sheer aural brilliance of Manchicourt’s polyphony. With only two previous recordings to its name, The Brabant Ensemble has already established itself as perhaps England’s most accomplished interpreter of Renaissance sacred music. Its intelligent phrasing, purity of vocal production and well-judged use of pause and inflexion are simply astonishing. Its vivid presentation of Manchicourt’s shimmering, flamboyant polyphony is as moving as it is intellectually stimulating' (International Record Review)

'The music is typical of the high Renaissance, influenced by Josquin and close to the style of Gombert; the Brabant performances all have a wonderful fluency and rhythmic clarity' (The Guardian)

'The more I hear of Manchicourt's music the more impressed I am … the Brabant Ensemble here sports a confidence and sureness of purpose which is indispensable in music as meaty and ambitious as this' (Goldberg)

'Stephen Rice's superbly talented vocal ensemble features many members of the same family, and there's a great harmony, in all senses, about its work. Here, the Brabant does the 16th-century composer Manchicourt proud' (FirstPost.com)

'Recorded at Merton College, Oxford by eager, fresh young voices, singing full throatedly with a forward impetus, it has made for delightful listening. Recommended strongly' (MusicalPointers.co.uk)

Magnificat secundi toni
composer
4/5vv
author of text
Luke 1: 46b-55

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Manchicourt set the words of the Magnificat canticle only once, presumably early in his career since it was published in 1534. Like almost all of his contemporaries, Manchicourt set half of the verses of the canticle polyphonically, the others being performed in chant. (The exception was Cristóbal de Morales (c1500–1553), who as a member of the Sistine Chapel choir followed local practice by setting all the verses in his Magnificat cycle.) Certainly the musical style of the polyphonic verses suggests an early date: their four-part texture is rather spare, in the manner of Richafort or other composers a generation older than Manchicourt is believed to be. Partly this is due to the heavy reliance on the second tone plainchant melody, which can be clearly heard in the first polyphonic verse at ‘in Deo salutari meo’ (‘in God my saviour’), where first tenors and basses, and then sopranos and altos, each have a string of repeated notes which mirror the recitation tone of the chant. Later in the canticle, reduced-voice sections create variety, with a low-voice trio for ‘Fecit potentiam’ (‘He hath showed strength’) and a soprano and alto duet at ‘Esurientes implevit bonis’ (‘He hath filled the hungry with good things’). Finally, the last two polyphonic verses are expanded to a five-voice texture by the addition of a second alto, Manchicourt heightening the effect of the ‘Gloria Patri’ with stretto imitative writing.

from notes by Stephen Rice © 2007

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