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Track(s) taken from CDA67614

Tribulatio et angustia

author of text
Psalm 118 (119): 143; 114 (116): 3b-4a; 24 (25): 17; 39 (40): 3

The Brabant Ensemble, Stephen Rice (conductor)
Recording details: September 2006
Queen's College Chapel, Oxford, United Kingdom
Produced by Jeremy Summerly
Engineered by Justin Lowe
Release date: September 2007
Total duration: 8 minutes 58 seconds


'It's one of very few discs of this repertoire I've been happy to play in its entirety, and then several times since. This is in part a tribute to Gombert … but also to The Brabant Ensemble and Stephen Rice … by encouraging an unusually individual and carefully balanced vocal response, he avoids the pitfalls of relentless consistency and arid elision … there is a welcome and (in this music) novel belief in the power of voices as voices … try the sopranos halfway through Hortus conclusus es for erotic Mariolatry at its most disconcertingly sensual. Arise, make haste, as they sing, and hear this music' (Gramophone)

'The Brabant Ensemble's exploration of the 'forgotten generation' of composers between Josquin and Palestrina is reviving an abundance of unwarrantedly neglected sacred polyphony. Judging by this splendid selection of motets, Gombert's neglect is particularly flagrant. In penitential pieces, such as Aspice Domine and Tribulatio et angustia, his lavish use of dissonance within a smooth-flowing yet intricately imitative style creates an atmosphere of almost unbearably intense and bitter anguish, whether contemplating a city laid waste or beseeching rescue from a foetid quagmire … these shapely and well-paced performances do full justice to Gombert's outstanding talent' (The Daily Telegraph)

'This attractive recording provised an excellent opportunity to wallow in his motets … the music is austere but beautiful, with plenty of anguished dissonances and false relations … the music is well-sung … the performers are evidently passionate about 16th-century Flemish music' (Early Music Review)

'This is impressively accomplished ensemble singing … Rice's own booklet notes provide fascinating insights into the music … it is this intelligent approach to the spirit of the text (there is a glorious moment in Hortus conclusus es when the soprano soars ethereally to the line 'arise, make haste my beloved'), coupled with outstanding tuning and balancing, which makes this such a distinguished group. The Brabant Ensemble are quickly establishing themselves as one of the more impressive English groups specializing in Renaissance music, and this, their fourth CD release, only increases their stature' (International Record Review)

'The sheer quality of his music. These 10 motets are notable for their richly glowing sonorities, their disciplined counterpoints, their intensity of expression and, most of all, their careful tailoring of music to text. There's the darkly erotic intensity of Hortus conclusus es, the angst-ridden, pentitential Tribulatio et angustia … the singing is meticulously balanced and blended, Stephen Rice shaping and pacing each work with exquisite judgement' (The Sunday Times)

'Aspice Domine, Ne reminiscaris, Domine and Tribulatio et angustia mine a rich seam of angst, and receive searing performances here … the singing is brightly supported, the texture crystalline' (Early Music)

'Virtually all of these works project an awe-inducing majesty and solemnity, unfolding over many minutes of nearly cadence-free waves of rich-textured polyphony. Pungent dissonances play an integral role in the overall structure, as do repeated-note fragments and brief melodic segments whose impact can be quite striking, especially when introduced in the treble register and then passed through the other voices. It would be impossible to name a highlight--the magnificent Tribulatio et angustia; the grand Aspice Domine; the profoundly moving Pater noster and Ave Maria--because all of these works and performances are exemplary, both as unique creations and as stylistically informed, modern realizations of some of the greatest, yet-to-be-fully-appreciated music of the 16th century. The 14-voice Brabant Ensemble, whose vibrant, perfectly-tuned sound often gives the impression of a larger group, knows the importance of phrasing, breath control, and long-lined dynamic modulation, all of which are essential to really fire up and fully illuminate these scores. The sound, from what proves to be the ideal acoustics of the chapel of The Queen's College, Oxford, is perfectly balanced to allow us to hear each vocal line clearly while enabling the ensemble to properly resonate. This is a recording that demands and rewards multiple hearings … absolutely essential listening!' (Classics Today)

'This music is stunning, and the performance here is clear and bright, with perfect balance across the voice parts and the sustained lines. Highly recommended' (GScene)

'Les moments à couper le souffle ne manquent pas dans la dernière réalisation du Brabant Ensemble. Les amateurs de polyphonie de la Renaissance se réjouiront de voir apparaître des joyaux tels que Hortus conclusus es, aux invraisemblables chaînes de dissonances, ou une version du Inviolata qui, pour évoquer lointainement un modèle de Josquin, ne se situe pas moins dans un registre d'élégiaque mélancolie où Gombert surpasse tous ses contemporains' (Le Monde de la Musique, France)
Tribulatio et angustia is unusual within Gombert’s œuvre in being modelled on an earlier piece of the same name, perhaps by Philippe Verdelot (c1480–c1531), though more likely anonymous. Although relationships arise on occasion between Gombert’s music and that of other composers, it seems that for the most part the texts that he set, and his manner of doing so, were derived from a contemporary spirituality rather than having their roots in older traditions. The earlier piece is written in the loose contrapuntal style of the second decade of the century, which Gombert intensifies significantly, both by adding a fifth voice and working the melodic material in a much more thoroughgoing way. An instance of this process is found at the phrase ‘meditatio mea est’ (‘[for] my thoughts are [of your commandments]’), where the not especially sensitive word-setting by the earlier composer (emphasizing the unstressed fourth syllable of ‘meditatio’) is retained but rendered unimportant by the introduction of extra entries, so that at least one voice begins the phrase in each bar, obscuring the word-stress. The climax of the piece is found in the second part (not based on the earlier motet), where the terror of the ‘hellish lake’ is made audible by voices at the top of their range, descending a scale as if being dragged downwards into the inferno.

from notes by Stephen Rice © 2007

Tribulatio et angustia détonne dans l’œuvre de Gombert en ce qu’il est modelé sur un Tribulatio et angustia antérieur, peut-être de Philippe Verdelot (env. 1480–env. 1531), mais plus sûrement anonyme. Bien que sa musique soit parfois liée à celle d’autres compositeurs, Gombert semble avoir choisi et mis en musique la plupart de ses textes selon une spiritualité contemporaine, sans ancrage dans des traditions plus anciennes. La pièce modèle adopte le style contrapuntique lâche des années 1520, que Gombert intensifie beaucoup par l’ajout d’une cinquième voix et par un travail plus soigné du matériau mélodique. Ce procédé transparaît à la phrase «meditatio mea est» («[car] mes pensées sont [tournées vers tes commandements]»), où la mise en musique, sans grande sensibilité, du premier compositeur (qui appuie sur la quatrième syllabe atone de «meditatio») est conservée mais rendue insignifiante par l’introduction d’entrées supplémentaires, si bien qu’une voix, au moins, commence la phrase à chaque mesure, opacifiant l’accentuation du mot. L’apogée de l’œuvre survient dans la seconde partie (qui ne repose pas sur le premier motet), laquelle matérialise la terreur du «lac infernal» par les voix au sommet de leur ambitus, descendant une gamme comme si elles étaient entraînées en enfer.

extrait des notes rédigées par Stephen Rice © 2007
Français: Hyperion Records Ltd

Tribulatio et angustia ist innerhalb Gomberts Œuvre insofern ungewöhnlich als es ein gleichnamiges früheres Stück, vielleicht von Philippe Verdelot (ca.1480–ca.1531), wahrscheinlich aber anonym, zum Vorbild hat. Obwohl gelegentlich zwischen Gomberts Musik und der anderer Komponisten Beziehungen auftauchen, scheint es, dass die Texte, die—und wie—er sie vertonte, größtenteils aus zeitgenössischer Spiritualität entsprangen statt in älteren Traditionen verwurzelt waren. Das frühere Stück ist im losen kontrapunktischen Stil des zweiten Jahrzehnts des Jahrhunderts gehalten, den Gombert durch die Hinzufügung einer fünften Stimme sowie der wesentlich gründlicheren Verarbeitung des melodischen Materials erheblich bereichert. Ein Beispiel für diesen Prozess findet sich in der Phrase „meditatio mea est“ („[denn] meine Gedanken sind [über deine Gebote]“), wo er die nicht besonders einfühlsame Textunterlegung des früheren Komponisten (die die unbetonte vierte Silbe von „meditatio“ hervorhebt) zwar beibehält, aber durch die Einführung zusätzlicher Einsätze unbedeutend macht, da in jedem Takt zumindest eine Stimme die Phrase beginnt, wodurch die Wortbetonung verschleiert wird. Der Höhepunkt des Stückes findet sich im (nicht auf der früheren Motette basierenden) zweiten Teil, wo der Schrecken des „Höllenpfuhls“ durch Stimmen an der höchsten Grenze ihres Umfangs hörbar gemacht wird, die dann stufenweise absteigen, als ob sie in das Inferno hinunter gezerrt werden.

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

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