Albums

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Classical - Released September 28, 2018 | Ramée

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Alfonso Ferrabosco the Younger, viol player at the court of Elizabeth I and Charles I, was the most innovative and influential composer of viol consort music of his generation. Following the steps of his father, composer Alfonso Ferrabosco the Elder, he continued the specifically English « In Nomine » tradition for viol consort into the seventeenth century while adding his own special touch in the « In Nomine through all parts » in using the cantus firmus in all voices with various rhythms and transpositions. His greatest achievement was the development of an imitative counterpoint perfectly adapted to the viol. The particular character of Ferrabosco's music was determined by his love for architecture and symmetrical forms which were integrated in all possible ways into his Fantasies: flexible motives, augmentations and diminutions of themes and a clear harmonic structure. © Ramée/Outhere
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Vocal Recitals - Released September 14, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica
A most unusual cabinet of curiosities 'Finding pleasure even in meditating on what causes one's pain': that neatly defines the theme of this album of music from the cusp of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Here Italian and English madrigals rub shoulders with motets and Tenebrae responsories. A melancholic poetry that provided endless nourishment for musical creativity in the late Renaissance, and which Geoffroy Jourdain presents in his first recording for harmonia mundi. © harmonia mundi
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Vocal Recitals - Released August 17, 2018 | deutsche harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
The French printer-publisher Christophe Plantin (1520-1589), who has lived in Antwerp more or less all of his adult life, is not just anyone. He is credited with some two thousand publications, an absolutely astounding number in this era in which everything was done by hand, including the press done page after page, and yet he’s managed to publish a new book approximately every week during his 34-year career, with more than a thousand copies for each—up to eight thousand copies for his Hebraic Bible. His workshop included sixteen hand presses, served by thirty-two printers, twenty typographers, three proofreaders and many servants of all kinds: a true company. His opus magnum is a Bible in five languages: Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Aramaean and Syriac. He is also credited with works in the fields of medicine, botany, cartography, anatomy, mathematics, religion of course… And yes, also music! Because he published several major partitions, gathering contemporary sacred works from Jacobus De Kerle, Palestrina, Philippus De Monte, as well as several chansonniers gathering pieces from Andries Pervenage, Claude Le Jeune and colleagues. It is in this incredible stock that the beautiful Ensemble Huelgas drew, alternating between profane and sacred, choral and soloist, a sort of condensed musical Renaissance oscillating between ferocious Catholics (Antwerp was then under Spanish domination, and Philip II was very touchy about religion) and rebellious Protestants. © SM/Qobuz
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released August 17, 2018 | Ricercar

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Brought up in the French-Flamish tradition but fed with the milk of Renaissance Italian madrigalism since he was about eighteen years old, Jacques Arcadelt (1507-1568) left behind him many gems whose importance has been realized only recently. Let’s acclaim this magnificent album gathering the Chœur de Chambre de Namur, the ensemble Doulce Mémoire and the Cappella Mediterranea, to give us not the complete marigals, songs and motets by Arcadelt, of course, but a large selection of his most stupefying pieces. These are thus madrigals from his First and Fourth Books released during his Italian years around 1540, songs from the various Livres de Chansons (Books of Songs) released between 1550 and 1565 when he was living in Paris, and motets from various eras in his career—mostly Italian, a bit French too since he moved from court to court depending on the jobs, the political assassinations, the change in alliances and, generally, the implausible chaos between the various power players at the time. As a nod, we also hear an Ave Maria “according to Arcadelt”, in truth an imitation by Louis Dietsch, a composer from the 19th Century, and the comical Ave Maria d’Arcadelt … by Liszt, inspired by the Dietsch imitation, for solo organ, an exercise in returning to your ancient roots like people loved to imagine them during the Romantic era. We could even wonder if Saint-Saëns didn’t use the head of the main theme to recycle it into his ”Organ” Symphony, incidentally. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released June 8, 2018 | Arcana

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik
Between 1580 and his death in 1599, Luca Marenzio would publish no fewer than 18 books of madrigals, for between four and six vocalists – some 500 masterpieces have survived to the present day, which is testimony to the furious evolution of Marenzio's languages over the course of just a few years. As he went on, he would develop ever-darker atmospheres which grew increasingly tortured and chromatic, and only Gesualdo would pick up the torch of his harmonic searchings a few years later. The two final madrigals offered on this album from the Rossoporpora ensemble, taken from the Ninth and final Book of Madrigals for five voices in 1599, provide a striking example: no sooner does a sequence become clear than Marenzio destroys it with a dissonance, an ineffable disharmony, a perilous chromatism. The album's title says it all: we really move from "amoroso" to "crudo" – from the amorous to the cruel – across 18 years of writing; with lyrics borrowed from love poetry or pastoral verse, Marenzio steers clear of any religious temptation; indeed he wrote relatively few religious works. In fact, his art resides in the most human aspect of music and song. © SM/Qobuz
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Secular Vocal Music - Released May 25, 2018 | Arcana

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 étoiles de Classica
Not much is known of the life of Giacomo Gorzanis, born around 1520, and died in 1579; he was almost certainly blind, probably from birth, judging from the note written in his Third Book for lute published in Venice in 1564 ("I, blind" and "I, deprived of light"); he was probably a very famous lutist, going by the note on his First Book of lute in 1562 lauding his"long experience over many years with the lute", and he probably also sang at the court of Archduke Charles II of Austria, if the note in his Second Book of Neapolitan songs of 1571 is to be believed: "the memory I retain, as your humble servant, and the true affection I bear for you." In short, it was a full life, in which Gorzanis would publish no less than five volumes of tablature for the lute between 1561 and 1575, and two books of Neapolitan songs in 1570 and 1571, which are precious glimpses of what is probably a much broader body of work, but of which now very little remains. The subjects taken on by the villanelles and other songs run from Petrarch and Ariosto to rather more daring stuff, even making allusions to forbidden love, the eternal subject matter of "popular" songs from the Renaissance to today. These pages, while still marked with a hefty dose of polyphony in the accompaniment, turn rather more towards the new style of melody, underpinned by a simple backcloth of chords – the ancestor of canzone napoletana, as it were, in which the line sung takes precedence over any other consideration. Pino de Vittorio (who sings but also plays the naker) is accompanied by Fabio Accurso and Bor Zuljan on lute and guitar, as well as Domen Marinčič on viole da gamba and percussion – including the dulce melos, a kind of hammered zither – played by Massimiliano Dragoni. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released May 25, 2018 | Brilliant Classics

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason

Chamber Music - Released April 13, 2018 | ATMA Classique

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Contrary to what you might have expected, the ensemble Les Voix Humaines is... a viola ensemble, without a hint of human voice. That said, the often somewhat plaintive discourse of the violas does rather recall the threnodies of the Renaissance and early baroque. And who better than Dowland, with his sombre Lachrimæ, to use purely instrumental sounds to conjure up the most human of emotions and voices? With his collection Lachrimæ, or seaven teares figured in seven passionate pavans, with divers other pavans, galliards and allemands, set forth for the lute, viols, or violons, in five parts published in 1604, Dowland created a whole musical world, most likely aimed at aristocratic amateurs, but one which provided inspiration for all his musical descendants, all the way to Britain and beyond... The five violas of the Voix Humaines and Nigel North's lute have been chosen to accompany these "seaven teares" not only with other pieces from the same book but also with a few works taken from collections published between 1600 and 1612, with the addition of a very rare piece taken from a manuscript.. © SM/Qobuz

Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released March 23, 2018 | Pan Classics

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Every single note of this astounding mass of the Holy Virgin from Ghiselin Danckerts (1510-1567) is from the hand of the composer. The remark is by no means trivial, because at the time a good part of the Gregorian repertoire was the subject of thousands of improvisations, unannotated by definition. Yet, Danckerts annotated them, with a luxury of details, so we know precisely what the choirs and the soloists were singing and what they were improvising on the Gregorian sections of his mass (the introit, the hallelujah,…), a great rarity then, all the more so that the composer doesn’t hesitate to reproduce a few singular dissonances coming from implacable melodic logics. He is incidentally known for a few writings in which he clarifies with exactitude the art and the way to sing the sharp notes and the flat notes, to unfold the melisma, etc. Naturally, the polyphonic acts themselves (Kyrie, Credo, etc.) are also the subject of an extravagant harmonic and melodic profusion. It is hard to believe that this music is almost already half a millennium old. Danckerts was accepted as a singer in the papal chapel in 1538 and only left in 1565, not exactly his own choosing since according to his firing letter, he was accused of not having a voice anymore, to indulge in the pleasures with women, to be insanely rich and to be too sick to continue. Well, he wasn’t completely abandoned by the Church since, despite being a vile sinner, he kept on receiving his salary until his death two years later. The magnificent ensemble Cantar Lontano recorded this wonder in the captivating acoustics of two Italian baroque churches, in Pesaro and Castelbellino, neither too resounding nor too dry. © SM/Qobuz
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Chamber Music - Released September 8, 2017 | Paradizo

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or

Classical - Released May 19, 2017 | naïve classique

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica
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Some people will be angry, others will laugh, but since there are many orphaned lute pieces in English sources that have come down to us with no name at all, Hopkinson Smith has taken the liberty of christening four such pieces in this program with names that seem to suit their musical spirits. The title of the album itself, Mad Dog (admittedly something that doesn’t quite sound like a respectable name for a Renaissance music album, but marketing will be marketing), is taken from such an apocryphal title given my Smith to what is really a galliard by Anthony Holborne found in the 2nd Matthew Holmes Lute Book. Ward’s Repose is a homage to Smith’s deceased musicology teacher… But, as so marvellously said by the Bard, “What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, so who cares really what these pieces were or were not called back four hundred years ago, when wen don’t even really know who wrote or arranged some of them – and here again, what’s in a name, be it Dowland, Byrd (whose lute pieces are all rewritings of keyboards works as done by his contemporary Francis Cutting), Johnson, when just the beauty of the music counts… Hopkinson Smith plays an 8-course lute built in the 1970s by Joel van Lennep, one of the world’s foremost lute-doctors and instrument makers. © SM/Qobuz

Sacred Vocal Music - Released March 24, 2017 | ATMA Classique

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Secular Vocal Music - Released March 17, 2017 | Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Classical - Released March 3, 2017 | L'Encelade

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason

Classical - Released November 18, 2016 | Ars Produktion

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Classical - Released October 14, 2016 | L'Encelade

Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles de Classica
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Chamber Music - Released June 10, 2016 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice

Sacred Vocal Music - Released June 3, 2016 | BIS

Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles de Classica
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The main expressive goal of this release by New York Polyphony seems to be the vocal harmonies accomplished by the one-voice-per-part singers and their interaction with the spectacular acoustics of the St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha, Nebraska (a venue known to U.S. Midwesterners but not internationally, and the BIS label and the performers deserve kudos for finding it). It succeeds brilliantly on those counts: the singers of New York Polyphony control not only pitch but vocal timbre to remarkable degrees. The album isn't intended as historically informed performance, yet it actually comes close in some ways to what might have been heard in the time of Palestrina, Victoria, and Guerrero. Palestrina's choirs numbered a few dozen, yet there are records of his music being sung one to a part in smaller situations. And the interpolation of chants and motets into the larger works brings the listener closer to what a Roman churchgoer would have experienced. The end result is a performance of, especially, Palestrina's Missa Papæ Marcelli that's nothing short of revelatory: New York Polyphony's reading stands in the highest possible contrast to the usual choral readings of this work, whose density turns it into a big wash of sound when it is sung by a large group. Although Palestrina himself wouldn't have appreciated the comparison, New York Polyphony's sound in the work is almost madrigalian, and in their use of the timbres of individual voices to bring out Palestrina's control over register they accomplish something genuinely original. Victoria's Missa O quam gloriosum and the smaller pieces by all three composers are hardly less compelling. Highly recommended.

Chamber Music - Released April 29, 2016 | Accent

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released April 8, 2016 | Evidence

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles de Classica