This is The Brabant Ensemble’s third disc for Hyperion. Under their director, eminent musicologist Dr Stephen Rice, they continue to excavate jewels of the sixteenth-century choral repertoire which have until now remained under-performed and under-represented in music history. Their natural and instinctive performing style, which foregrounds the essential vocal qualities of this music, unlike the instrumental tone of other early music choirs, brings these beautiful and complex works abundantly to life.
Gombert’s motets are the heart of his writing and this selection of them allows the range of his musical accomplishments to fully emerge. Often seen as written in penance for heinous crimes committed by the composer, many of them are settings of various texts of penitence, sorrow and yearning for deliverance from punishment. Images such as the ‘hellish lake’ in Tribulatio et angustia are dramatically explored. Also on this disc are motets for the adulation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which surprisingly demonstrate an especially intensified and dissonant musical style, showing the almost erotic level of devotion suggested in some of the greatest art of this period.