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Sacred Vocal Music - Released December 20, 2003 | Mirare

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Classical - Released March 11, 2013 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released January 1, 1993 | Ricercar

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Classical - Released January 1, 2004 | Ricercar

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Sacred Oratorios - Released March 29, 2019 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
Composed by Dietrich Buxtehude in 1680 for the church of Lübeck, where he had been working for ten years, Membra Jesu Nostri describes the scars of the Passion of Christ through a cycle of seven cantatas. The work owes its title to a Latin manuscript written by a relative of Saint Bernard. Typical of the pietism of 17th century Lutheran Germany, the piece is a descent into the darkness of suffering and an ode to the promise of consolation. Grounded in rhetoric, Buxtehude’s music influenced a generation of innovative musicians. It would later be an inspiration to Johann Sebastian Bach, who traveled to Lübeck specifically to meet Buxtehude. Membra Jesus Nostri was written for a five-voice ensemble. It requires a set of soloists with three lower voices and two upper parts, as well as a subtle instrumental accompaniment featuring two violins, five viols, and one basso continuo chose by the musicians. Some authors have seen the influence of the “Versailles Motet,” which Buxtehude knew well, in this setup. The influence of Italian music, especially Monteverdi, which he may have known through his interest in Schütz’s music, is also clear. The work is the testimony to Buxtehude’s incredibly expressive power and deserves to be considered as a masterpiece among other spiritual compositions such as Schütz’s Musikalische Exequien, Bach’s Passions and, on an instrumental level, Biber’s Sonates du Rosaire.According to Philippe Pierlot, who can be heard on the record, “Buxtehude is appealing directly to our senses and making us experience the suffering of Christ. We can feel the wounds, the blows, and the heart when it ceases to beat. Thanks to the genius of his music, the composer not only moves his listener to intense emotion, but also enlightens him, giving him access to the deep meaning of the text it sings” © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 1, 2007 | Ricercar

Here's a two-for-one reissue that makes sense rather than just suggesting an attempt to wring the last few dollars, euros, or yen out of recordings that have run their course. The two CDs were made (apparently) separately in the late '90s, with countertenor James Bowman and soprano Susan Hamilton, respectively, joining Belgium's Ricercar Consort. Contrary to the ordering on the cover, the first disc, featuring Bowman, is dedicated to Byrd, the second, with Hamilton, to Alfonso Ferrabosco II. (Actually, several anonymous works are included on both discs.) Viol consort music was, in the intentionally vague words of the sixteenth century motto reproduced as the title of the booklet essay, "apt for viols and voices." It was a music for sophisticated amateurs who might perform the polyphony with whatever forces were available; the solo voice (not always on top) plus viols configuration must have been a common one. Both singers blend so subtly into the group of viols that each seems almost like one more viol. The real fascination of this two-disc release is that it leads you into some of the stylistic distinctions among the composers who worked in this rather intellectual tradition. Alfonso Ferrabosco II, an Italian who came to England to serve the British crown, was a generation younger than William Byrd, the king of all composers for viols and one whose inward nature responded passionately to the genre. Ferrabosco's music represents an elaboration on the classic style represented by Byrd; the second disc includes complex all-instrumental pieces like the Fantasia on the hexachord, chromatically cycling through different statements of a six-note subject in such a way as to suggest that some variant of equal temperament was known to the first people who played the piece. Even in vocal pieces Ferrabosco's music comes off as more extreme than Byrd's, more aimed toward startling the listener. The Ricercar Consort clarifies the details of the music in other ways, as well; antiphonal effects usually hidden in viol recordings are carefully delineated through the placement of the players in relation to the microphones, and the presence of the unusual lyra-viol employed by Ferrabosco, with a rich sound generated by vibrating open strings, is worth the purchase price by itself. The texts of the consort songs have a distinctive refined melancholy, and the Ricercar Consort draws that melancholy out with deliberate, perfectly controlled performances on period instruments. The whole set is lovely, and even over two discs of fairly homogeneous music it never becomes dull. A strong candidate for a viol consort purchase if you're going to make just one. © TiVo
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Classical - Released June 4, 2013 | Maguelone Music

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Classical - Released May 26, 2017 | Flora

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Classical - Released December 10, 2012 | Flora

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The graphics for this album, which include two really beautiful drawings of artichokes but no information about the music at all, tend to obscure the main attraction: the third piece included from the Suite in D minor for viols and continuo, published by Marin Marais in 1701, is the so-called "Couplets de Folies," a set of variations on the tune "La Follia." Nineteen minutes long in this performance, it may be the least-known of the monumental Baroque variation sets, and given its date it might have been a sort of French rejoinder to the variations on the same theme in Arcangelo Corelli's Violin Sonata Op. 5/12. Marais' 32 variations are purely French in quality, with the ornamentation subtly sneaking in around the corners of the melody rather than blazing forth and proclaiming itself, and even the rhythms of the song are made to conform to French dances. It is perilously difficult, and viol players Philippe Pierlot and Rainer Zipperling acquit themselves very well. Pierlot is a veteran of the ensembles of Jordi Savall, whose performances of Marais remain standard, and the small dances on this release reflect that heritage. But he adds enough to Savall's style -- in the big variation set tempos are tweaked and the final pages are really breathtaking -- to make the recording of interest to lovers of the French Baroque. And the artichokes, by Giovanna Garzoni (1600-1670), would make a nice centerpiece. © TiVo
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Classical - Released December 17, 2007 | Flora

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Sacred Vocal Music - Released March 31, 2011 | Mirare

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Classical - Released April 17, 2020 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet
Having become a film star (played by actor Jean-Pierre Marielle, who was passionate about music), Monsieur de Saint Colombe comes to us here from the comfort of his own home where he gave concerts which proved very popular with amateur musicians as well as his two daughters. His repertoire mainly consisted of dances, namely stylised dances intended for “the personal and tranquil enjoyment” of enlightened listeners. These dances were composed in suites from the middle of the 17th century onwards and follow on from one another in an order that was gradually established over time, from the most dignified or the noblest (and slowest) to the liveliest. Not only was Jean de Sainte-Colombe admired for the grace and stability of his left-hand technique, but also for his use of silver-spun strings which were very much in vogue in France at the time and added a prestigious aesthetic to his music. He was widely praised for his beautiful playing and his way of reaching chords with beautiful dissonances that lifted the spirits of his learned and cultured audience. Philippe Pierlot (primary artist, bass viol), Lucile Boulanger (bass viol) and Myriam Rignol (bass viol) invite us into this mysterious and sophisticated world on this album, with a collaboration from Rolf Lislevand on theorbo for two of the pieces. Playing excerpts from his Pieces in D, in G and in C, it becomes clear why the composer was hailed by many during the era of Louis XIV as the “Orpheus of his age”; a legendary musician in ancient Greek mythology. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released November 5, 2009 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklets + Video Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
Philippe Pierlot and the Ricercar Consort's 2006 recording of Bach's Magnificat brings back the glory days of historically informed performances, those halcyon days in the 1980s when musicians, empowered by scholarship and energized by virtuosity, were recording the Baroque repertoire with the zeal of the newly converted. Though Pierlot and his musicians are of a younger generation, they bring a missionary fervor to the music, a program of Bach's Magnificat, BWV 243, and Missa Brevis, BWV 235, interspersed with two well-chosen organ works, the Fuga sopra il Magnificat, BWV 733, and the Präludium und Fuga, BWV 541. Pierlot's textures are clean, his rhythms buoyant, his colors bright, and tempos brisk, but not rushed in the fast movements, and contemplative but not moribund in the slow movements. The Ricercar Consort plays with technical brilliance and manifest enthusiasm as an ensemble, and the violin and flute soloists deliver sparkling performances. But perhaps the best thing is the five vocal soloists and given that they also serve as the choir, their performances are even more remarkable. With clarion tones, gracious technique, and an effortless blend, they comport themselves with the ease and luster of the best jazz vocal groups, and the spirit they bring to their parts is infectious. Francis Jacob delivers forceful yet effervescent readings of the two organ works. Mirare's digital sound is as clear and as real as a blue sky. © TiVo
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Cantatas (sacred) - Released February 16, 2018 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Diapason d'or / Arte
The cantata Jesus nahm zu sich die Zwölfe (Jesus gathered the twelve to Himself) BWV 22, holds a historic place in Bach’s work. Indeed he composed it while still in Köthen, as an audition piece for the position of Thomaskantor in Leipzig, and then conducted it on February 7th, 1723, maybe even singing the bass part himself. Famously the city council, unable to convince its preferred composers – Telemann, Graupner and two others –, decided to settle with “mediocre” Bach… The gospel of the day first announces his death and his resurrection by Christ and his disciplines. A modest orchestra: voices, strings, one oboe and continuo, but the musical content is – like in almost all of Bach’s cantatas – amongst the best he’s ever written. For the same celebration, Bach composed a new cantata the following year, Herr Jesu Christ, wahr’ Mensch und Gott (Lord Jesus Christ, true Man and God) BWV 127. But it has almost nothing in common with the previous piece: here Bach offers a very impressive reflection on physical death. Throughout his cantatas he called for a blessed death to free himself from the vicissitudes of life on Earth, but this now reveals how much he may have feared physical death itself. The aria ”Die Seele ruht” is one of these sublime moments suspended in time, an ineffable tintinnabulum, in which the soprano and the oboe dialogue on a harrowing theme while the flutes and string pizzicatos symbolise the passing of time with incredible beauty. Finally it’s with Die Elenden sollen essen (The miserable shall eat) BWV 75 that Bach started off his work in Leipzig, in St. Nicholas Church this time, as the cantatas were alternately performed in both churches. Probably because he wanted to start with a bang, he designed this cantata on a huge scale: fourteen numbers, divided in two parts. Of course Bach would have never been able to produce such vast and powerful partitions on a weekly basis, but there is a real substance to this Passion… and it’s with great passion that Philippe Pierlot, his Ricercar Consort and the soloists perform these masterpieces. © SM/Qobuz
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Cantatas (sacred) - Released November 18, 2013 | Mirare

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Hi-Res Audio
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released May 1, 2007 | Mirare

Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
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Classical - Released October 1, 2004 | Mirare

Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année
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Classical - Released January 1, 2009 | Mirare

Booklet
Belgium's Ricercar Consort has a long record of Bach performances that transcend national styles; it has something of the dramatic Italian approach, the lush sound from Francophone lands, and well-drilled German clarity. In this set of Bach cantatas it uses the currently fashionable one-voice-per-part approach, with the "chorus" consisting simply of the voices massed together. No doubt there is evidence that the procedure was used in Bach's time; whether it was considered desirable in North German communities where the bourgeousie observed the big choirs of noble houses and powerful churches elsewhere in Europe is another matter. The results in this collection of early works, however, are musically persuasive. Included are three early Bach cantatas, including by many reckonings the very first one, the Cantata No. 131, "Aus der Tiefen ruf ich Herr zu dir," BWV 131 (From the depths, Lord, I call out to you). This work is not at all in the usual Bach cantata patterns with chorus and chorale framing a series of arias. Instead there is a sequence of multisectional movements, with the chorale distributed around the work in the manner of a keyboard chorale partita. All three of these cantatas, including the famous Canata No. 4, "Christ lag in Todesbanden," BWV 4 (Christ lay, bound by death), look back to the 17th century -- to the intense and intimate sacred music of Buxtehude specifically -- and are among the most expressive of all of Bach's works. The madrigal-like solo textures work well here, especially when soloists of the highest caliber are present as they are on this recording. Soprano Katharine Fuge (and didn't she choose the right line of work!) and fast-rising countertenor Carlos Mena are both standouts. Sample Mena's luxuriant melancholy on the aria "Leget euch dem Heiland unter" (Submit to the savior) from the Cantata No. 182, "Himmelskönig sei willkommen," BWV 182 (May the king of heaven be welcome). The coolly intense playing of the Ricercar Consort under Philippe Pierlot supports the singers and the overall mood beautifully at every turn, and the sound is superb. A major find in the crowded Bach cantata marketplace, at least for those who buy the one-voice-per-part theory or are willing to accept it for the sake of argument. © TiVo
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released October 1, 2005 | Mirare