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Classical - Released April 17, 2020 | Glossa

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There is something deeply troubling and inscrutable in Carlo Gesualdo’s music, something that any listener, even the most inexpert one, will unfailingly experience. This most particularly holds for Tenebrae Responsoria (1611), his definitive statement, his monument, his testament. It is as if this work, firmly embedded in the framework of liturgy for the Holy Week and reaching back to the practices of the Gregorian chant, would constantly extend over its boundaries and transgress its time and setting, immediately addressing modernity, disturbing all the rules in a severe tension, reaching into something that borders on chaos and madness, within the very order and religious devotion it fully espouses. Graindelavoix, that groundbreaking ensemble based in Antwerp and directed by Björn Schmelzer, are the ideal performers for this disquieting repertoire which originally was sung at Gesualdo’s castle and with probably only one listener in the audience: Gesualdo himself... In a tour de force lasting over three hours, recorded over ten days in summer 2019, the singers fully display all the features which, after 16 albums (all on Glossa) and hundreds of concerts, have made their sound a truly trademark one. In words of Schmelzer, “this is our most important recording to date”. A fascinating essay especially commissioned to Lithuanian philosopher and cultural theorist Mladen Dolar puts the music of Gesualdo into perspective, avoiding the clichés that are so often found in texts about the composer. © Alpha Classics
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released January 19, 2018 | Glossa

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The sixteenth-century madrigalist Cipriano de Rore perhaps remains something of a mystery figure in modern times, awaiting penetrating simplification and clarification. Rather than simplification, a new recording of selections from his expressive output from Björn Schmelzer and Graindelavoix, entitled Portrait of the artits as a starved dog, is more likely to yield illumination and fascination. That is Schmelzer’s way. As with many Graindelavoix recordings on Glossa, the accompanying artwork in the album booklet forms an integral part of the convincing performance (as does Schmelzer’s essay). Here, the imagery includes images by Albrecht Dürer and Hans Mielich, statues of Melpomene and Medusa, sculptures by Michelangelo, even a sardonyx cameo cup. A portrait of De Rore shows the inner likeness of the composer as being possessed of a manic madness or “furor divinus” and having the guise of an emaciated dog. De Rore was born in Ronse – not that far from Schmelzer’s Antwerp – and, as well as probably being under the protection of Margaret of Parma, he travelled through Europe in the first half of the sixteenth century, notably to Ferrara. Regarded as a pivotal figure in the evolution of the madrigal, De Rore’s style developed significantly across his career and Graindelavoix’s programme gravitates from some of his settings of stanze from Ariosto’s epic poem Orlando furioso through to some of his later, much more radical madrigals. Also found on this recording is De Rore’s multi-voiced setting of Dido’s lament from Virgil’s Aeneid. © Glossa
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Classical - Released March 24, 2017 | Glossa

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On June 2, 1640, a silent funereal procession proceeded to the Sint-Jacobskerk in Antwerp. The deceased was none other than the famous painter of the Baroque period, Peter Paul Rubens, and it seems clear – musicological research seems to have established the fact beyond doubt – that the requiem mass sung by the cathedral choir on this occasion was an eight-part work, i.e. a Dies irae printed in Antwerp 28 years ago and written by the Italian composer Orazio Vecchi (1550-1605). Of all the Masses published or available in Antwerp at that time, only the Missa pro defunctis by Vecchi, originally published posthumously in Italy by Phalèse in 1612 (with other masses of the same composer as well as Monteverdi’s Missa in illo tempore, the latter being an important artist in Rubens' life who began his career at the Mantuan court where he worked alongside the musician), deserves special consideration in the context of these funerals. The album offers the complete Mass setting, as well as liturgical works by a few other musicians who lived or worked in the region during Rubens’ life: La Hèle, Ruimonte and Lobo. The Belgian ensemble Graindelavoix, a dozen vocal soloists singing according to the uses of the time, is at the helm. In a way, you’ll be taking part in the funeral ceremonies of the great Rubens… © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released March 24, 2017 | Glossa

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Classical - Released September 14, 2018 | Glossa

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With « The Liberation of the Gothic », Björn Schmelzer and Graindelavoix deliver an imaginative reading of music by two English composers active at the end of the fifteenth century, the towering figure of John Browne and the slightly later and much less wellknown Thomas Ashwell (or Ashewell). Björn Schmelzer draws a vivid connection between the florid polyphony of these two composers and the freedom of structure and ornament found in late Gothic architecture, notably that of the fourteenthcentury Lady Chapel built as part of the “Ship of the Fens”, Ely Cathedral. Performing Ashwell’s intricately-woven Missa Ave Maria – a landmark in polyphony – Schmelzer and his Antwerp-based ensemble echo, in the individual freedom accorded to these virtuoso singers, the rich ornamentation of foliage, seemingly in constant motion, decorating the walls of Ely’s Lady Chapel. The singers add their own “coloratura”, an approach which continues to be central to Björn Schmelzer’s interpretation of medieval and Renaissance works, as have been appearing on Glossa for a decade and a half now. In his booklet essay Schmelzer refers to the British writer and artist John Ruskin describing the “liberation of the Gothic” as also concerning “the workers, who were not submitted to repetitive, mechanical work but invested in continuous and infinite variation.” Acting as surrounding pillars to Ashwell’s Mass on this recording are two of the extended motets, much favoured by early Tudor English polyphonists – and encountered in the famous Eton Choirbook manuscript: John Browne’s Stabat mater and his first setting of the Salve regina. © Glossa