Welcome to Hyperion Records, an independent British classical label devoted to presenting high-quality recordings of music of all styles and from all periods from the twelfth century to the twenty-first.

Hyperion offers both CDs, and downloads in a number of formats. The site is also available in several languages.

Please use the dropdown buttons to set your preferred options, or use the checkbox to accept the defaults.

Click cover art to view larger version
Track(s) taken from CDA67640

Missa Super Oeniades Nymphae

author of text
Ordinary of the Mass

Recording details: February 2007
Kloster Pernegg, Waldviertel, Austria
Produced by Stephen Rice
Engineered by Markus Wallner
Release date: August 2007
Total duration: 27 minutes 12 seconds

Cover artwork: Fire (1566) by Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-1593)
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna / Bridgeman Art Library, London


'The polyphony of Jacob Regnart deserves a disc to itself, and this well-constructed programme is an excellent advocate for his varied and inventive music. With a direct, definite and bright-edged tone Cinquecento's six individuals combine to create a distinctive consort sound … an admirably released and forward singing style. While this forthright approach is exciting, they know well when to rein it in, as they do in the sinuous phrases of the Kyrie' (Choir & Organ)

'The repertory is glorious, important and little known; the sextet's vocal technique is superb, in solo performance as well as in ensemble, and the disc's production values are superb' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Even among the plethora of unjustly neglected 16-century polyphonists currently emerging into the limelight, Regnart stands out as a composer of uncommon talent … the motet Lamentabatur Jacob, whose bleak opening, spare textures and dark chromaticisms plumb the depths of despair, makes a particularly striking impression' (The Daily Telegraph)

'The Vienna-based Cinquecento's full-throated yet supple performance perfectly captures the Mass's joyful mood, with its soaring lines, delectable passages of sinuous polyphony and moments of striking text-expression … its ringing, crisply articulated performances, aided by the magnificent sound engineering in a reverberant church acoustic, are no less powerful and brilliant. The group's blend and balance, illuminated by the firm voices of the two countertenors, are near perfect while preserving each voice's individual character. Above all, it is the intelligence of these performances that is striking … Cinquecento's superb performances, together with producer Stephen Rice's informative booklet commentary, make this an ideal introduction to the music of a still little-heard but important composer of the sixteenth century' (International Record Review)

'The performances by the six male voices of Cinquecento are exemplary in their matching of vocal lines, and in the singers' ability to characterise every idea without ever losing the sense of the overall musical shape' (The Guardian)

'The grave beauty of Regnart's sacred music deserves more friends. The six male voices of Cinquecento, from five European countries, project the Missa Super Oeniades Nymphae and various motets with a clean, forthright delivery, enhanced by a resonant church acoustic. You feel that they've been singing for centuries' (The Times)

'All performers of vocal polyphony can learn from this group … the singing is exemplary: such connection between breath, chest voice and line is rare; the sound is compelling because it is soloistic and collegiate at the same time: ex pluribus unum. The recording is superbly engineered, allowing each voice to run clear within often thick, sinewy textures. Few recordings of polyphony equal the detail and warmth of this recorded sound, which is sheerly beautiful in itself' (Early Music)

'The first thing that impresses you is the beauty and richness of the sound. Cinquecento is multicultural, its six members (all men) coming from Austria, Belgium, England, Germany and Switzerland, but the timbres of the voices, while distinctive, are beautifully blended. The often sterile quality of some English, all-male, one-voice-to-a-part ensembles, like the Orlando Consort, is thankfully absent. This is Cinquecento’s second recording for Hyperion, and is every bit as fine as its first ('Music for the Court of Maximilian II' – CDA67579). The music here is all by Jacob Regnart (c1540-1599), and the Hapsburg connection remains intact: Regnart also worked for the emperors Maximilian II and Rudolf II, as well as the Archduke Ferdinand. Regnart's compositional style is typically late-Renaissance, though perhaps more conservative than Orlandus Lassus's. The recoding begins and ends with two superb motets written in honour of Jahannes Trautson and Maximilian II respectively; the central work is the parody mass for six voices Missa Super Oeniades Nymphae. Six sacred pieces follow. Cinquecento lavish as much care and attention to detail on the word-painting as Regnart did, whether it be rhythmic, melodic, harmonic or in terms of texture. The meaning of the first verse (on the words 'gloria magna tuae') rings out majestically, while the second verse starts gently but builds almost imperceptibly to a climax on the final gorgeous chord. In the same verse, there's also an example of a subtle awareness of timbre produced by different sounds with the crowded sibilants in the line 'ut sis Eois notus et Hesperiis'. Thus the precedent is set for the rest of the disc. The Missa is very fine, with much use of antiphony and contrasts between polyphonic and chordal textures, as was the norm. The Kyrie is sung with crispness and dignity, while the 'Qui tollis' of the Gloria is full of a sweet expressivity. In the Gloria, Cinquecento imbues the 'Et incarnatus' with a tremendous sense of mystery; the Sanctus and Agnus Dei, shot through with peals of bells, are likewise treated with great sensitivity to the import of the words. The remaining works are likewise superb, both from the point of view of the music and its performance. Exsultent iusti is joyful yet restrained, while Regnart’s ambiguous setting of Psalm 42 (43):5, Quare tristis es, anima mea? is suitably tense and searching. Also of note is the dark solemnity of Lamentabatur Jacob. The spacious 6-voice Ut vigilum densa silvam cingente corona, which ends the disc, is made to blaze brightly. The generous … acoustic of the Pernegg Monastery seems perfect for an ensemble of this size, judging by the recording, which is up to Hyperion’s typically high standards. Recording producer Stephen Rice’s booklet note is equally excellent' (Classical Source)

'This CD itself consists of two state motets, six sacred works, and the centrepiece of the disc, the Missa Super Oeniades Nymphae. The combined effect of this wonderful, timeless music and Cinquecento's brilliant performances can only be described as therapeutic. Sound-wise, with the help of a perfect acoustic setting … the six voices of Cinquecento have produced a recording of seamless, perfectly tuned and harmonically rich vocal music. The soundstage is panoramic and deep, and each voice has an almost three-dimensional place in the mix. It's like surround sound but with just two speakers, but sounds perfectly natural. Listening to recordings like this is something everyone would benefit from—it's like musical time-travel for anyone who wants it. Buy some' (bbc.co.uk)

'Cinquecento nous fait découvrir cet art raffiné, constamment lyrique et personnel, d'une qualité mélodique mémorable. On reste saisi devant les trouvailles sonores qui parsèment les œuvres: on songe aux savoureuses dissonances de 'Et descendit de coelis' de la messe ou aux poignantes inflexions de Quare tristis es … l'ensemble réussit à transformer cette fragilité en avantage dès lors que l'affect de déploration est solicité, comme dans le très réussi Lamentabatur Jacob' (Le Monde de la Musique, France)
In the Missa Super Oeniades Nymphae the designation ‘super’ (‘based on’) indicates that the Mass setting uses ‘parody’ or ‘imitation’ technique, whereby musical material from an existing work is transformed to become the basis of the Mass (or of other types of works such as Magnificat settings). Regrettably, the work on which this Mass setting is based, which to judge from its title was most likely a secular motet to a Humanistic poem, is not known to have survived; the probable composer was Regnart himself. Certainly the consistent use of a head-motif to begin each new movement (other than the Agnus Dei) supports this view. It is possible that the original Oeniades Nymphae was an incidental work for a theatrical entertainment: similar material by Lassus survives from the Munich court, but as a private setting Regnart’s piece (if it was his) would have been unlikely to have been published.

The Mass setting, for six voices, is notable for its impressive control of pacing. Much as Lassus frequently did, Regnart divides his ensemble into varying groups of three or four voices, which are used antiphonally to emphasize important elements of the Mass text through varied repetition. An example occurs in the Gloria, where the words ‘Quoniam tu solus sanctus. Tu solus Dominus. Tu solus altissimus, Jesu Christe’ (‘For you only are holy. You only are the Lord. You only are the most high, Jesus Christ’) are divided between upper and lower voice groups, building through a rapid and syllabic declamation of the three attributes of Jesus, before the name itself is further emphasized by being sung in doubled note values, and immediately repeated. The remainder of the Gloria text (‘Cum Sancto Spiritu in gloria Dei Patris. Amen’—‘With the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father. Amen’) is similarly subjected to repetition by varied voice groups, but in the context of a much fuller texture, delivering a suitably triumphant ending to the movement.

Another echo of Lassus’s procedures comes in the Credo, where Regnart adopts triple time for short sections such as ‘Confiteor unum baptisma in remissionem [peccatorum]’ (‘I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness [of sins]’). In contrast to composers of a slightly earlier generation, it is not Regnart’s habit to write sections for heavily reduced numbers of voices such as duets and trios: partly this may have been a result of the lighter textures he favoured in the full sections. The central stretch of the Credo (‘Crucifixus … sedet ad dexteram Patris’—‘He was crucified … is seated at the right hand of the Father’) is set for four voices, however, as is the short Benedictus.

from notes by Stephen Rice © 2007

La «Super» («fondée sur») de la Missa Super Oeniades Nymphae indique qu’elle recourt à la technique de «parodie» ou d’«imitation», par laquelle on transforme un matériau musical issu d’une composition préexistante pour en faire la base d’une messe (ou d’un Magnificat, par exemple). Hélas, l’œuvre sur laquelle cette messe se fonde—et qui, à en juger d’après son titre, était très probablement un motet profane mettant en musique un poème humaniste—ne nous a pas été conservée. Elle était certainement de Regnart lui-même, une hypothèse que corrobore l’usage constant d’un motif de tête au début de chaque mouvement (Agnus Dei excepté). Peut-être l’Oeniades Nymphae originelle était-elle une œuvre de scène destinée à un divertissement théâtral, puisqu’on matériau similaire de Lassus nous est parvenu de la cour de Munich. Mais, de par son caractère privé, la pièce de Regnart (si elle était bien de lui) n’aurait sûrement pas été publiée.

La messe à six voix vaut par son impressionnante maîtrise du tempo. Comme le faisait souvent Lassus, Regnart scinde son ensemble en groupes de trois ou quatre voix, qu’il utilise en antiphonie pour souligner d’importants éléments du texte grâce à une répétition variée. Cette technique est employée dans le Gloria, où les mots «Quoniam tu solus sanctus. Tu solus Dominus. Tu solus altissimus, Jesu Christe» («Car toi seul es saint. Toi seul es Seigneur. Toi seul es très haut, Jésus-Christ») sont partagés entre les groupes vocaux supérieur et inférieur: passé une rapide déclamation syllabique des trois épithètes christiques, le nom même de Jésus est encore rehaussé pas des valeurs de notes doublées, avant d’être immédiatement repris. Le reste du Gloria («Cum Sancto Spiritu in gloria Dei Patris. Amen»—«Avec le Saint-Esprit, dans la gloire de Dieu le Père. Amen») est, à son tour, répété par des groupes vocaux variés, mais dans le cadre d’une texture bien plus dense, qui assure au mouvement une conclusion triomphante comme il se doit.

Les procédés de Lassus se répercutent encore dans le Credo, où Regnart adopte une mesure ternaire pour des sections courtes comme «Confiteor unum baptisma in remissionem [peccatorum]» («Je reconnais un seul baptême pour la rémission [des péchés]»). Contrairement aux compositeurs d’une génération un peu antérieure, Regnart n’a pas pour habitude d’écrire des sections pour des forces vocales drastiquement réduites (duos, trios, etc.), notamment parce qu’il privilégie les textures peu chargées dans les sections à effectif entier. La portion centrale du Credo («Crucifixus … sedet ad dexteram Patris»—«Il fut crucifié … il s’assit à la droite du Père») s’adresse cependant à quatre voix, comme le court Benedictus.

extrait des notes rédigées par Stephen Rice © 2007
Français: Hypérion

Die Bezeichnung „super“ („über“) deutet an, dass diese Messvertonung die „Parodie“- oder „Imitations“-Technik verwendet, in der das musikalische Material eines bestehenden Werkes transformiert wird, um als Grundlage einer Messe (oder anderer Werktypen wie etwa einer Magnifikat-Vertonung) zu dienen. Leider scheint das Stück, auf dem diese Messe basiert, nicht überliefert zu sein, aus seinem Titel läßt sich jedoch vermuten, dass es höchstwahrscheinlich eine weltliche Motette auf einen humanistischen Text war, die Regnart womöglich selbst komponiert hatte. Die konsequente Verwendung eines Kopfmotivs, mit dem (außer dem Agnus Dei) jeder neue Satz beginnt, unterstützt diese Ansicht. Es ist möglich, dass das originale Oeniades Nymphae ein Gelegenheitswerk für eine Theateraufführung war—ähnliches Material von Lassus ist vom Münchner Hof überliefert—aber es ist unwahrscheinlich, dass dieses zum Privatgebrauch bestimmte Stück von Regnart (wenn es seines war) je publiziert wurde.

Die Messvertonung für sechs Stimmen ist für ihre beeindruckende Kontrolle der Tempobeziehungen bemerkenswert. Regnart teilt sein Ensemble, wie es auch Lassus oft tat, in verschiedene Gruppen von drei oder vier Stimmen ein, die antiphonal eingesetzt werden, um die bedeutenden Elemente der Messe durch variierte Wiederholung zu betonen. Ein Beispiel dafür findet sich im Gloria, wo die Worte „Quoniam tu solus sanctus. Tu solus Dominus. Tu solus altissimus, Jesu Christe“ („Denn du allein bist der Heilige, du allein der Herr, du allein der Höchste, Jesus Christus!“) zwischen höheren und tieferen Stimmgruppen aufgeteilt werden und sich durch die schnelle, syllabische Deklamation der drei Attribute Christi steigern bevor der Name selbst dadurch besonders hervorgehoben wird, dass er in doppelten Notenwerten gesungen und unmittelbar wiederholt wird. Der Rest des Gloria-Textes („Cum Sancto Spiritu in gloria Dei Patris. Amen“—„Mit dem Heiligen Geiste in der Herrlichkeit Gottes, des Vaters. Amen“) erfährt ähnliche Wiederholung durch verschiedene Stimmgruppen, aber im Kontext eines volleren Gefüges, was den Satz zu einem angemessen triumphalen Abschluss bringt.

Ein weiteres Echo der Arbeitsweise von Lassus findet sich im Credo, wo Regnart für kurze Abschnitte ein Dreiermetrum einsetzt, wie etwa für „Confiteor unum baptisma in remissionem [peccatorum]“ („Ich bekenne die eine Taufe zur Vergebung [der Sünden]“). Im Gegensatz zu den Komponisten einer etwas früheren Generation schrieb Regnart gewöhnlich keine Abschnitte für stark reduzierte Stimmen wie Duette oder Trios—dies könnte darauf gründen, dass er in den vollen Abschnitten leichtere Gewebe vorzog. Der Mittelteil des Credo („Crucifixus … sedet ad dexteram Patris“—„Er wurde sogar für uns gekreuzigt … sitzt zur Rechten des Vaters“) ist jedoch wie auch das kurze Benedictus für vier Stimmen gesetzt.

aus dem Begleittext von Stephen Rice © 2007
Deutsch: Renate Wendel

Waiting for content to load...
Waiting for content to load...