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Classical - Released March 30, 2012 | ECM New Series

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Classical - Released October 10, 2014 | ECM New Series

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Classical - Released November 15, 2013 | ECM New Series

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
The Hilliard Ensemble, formed in the early 1970s, had announced its retirement when this album appeared, but one is hard pressed to detect any diminution in the originality of its programming or in its trademark vocal blend, structured as as to allow each singer to emerge as an individual. Three composers are represented on this album of madrigals: Bernardo Pisano, Jacques Arcadelt, and the contemporary British composer Roger Marsh. Pisano has not been much heard since the rediscovery of the Renaissance Italian madrigal repertory in the 1960s and 1970s, and the simple, melancholy pieces here, focused on the "sad heart" of the title, are worth a new look. They helped define the madrigal as a serious form in contrast to earlier vocal genres like the frottola, and they paved the way for the Flemish import Arcadelt to give the genre its classic foundation. Marsh sets passages of Dante's Divine Comedy in a vaguely madrigalesque style, with extended harmonies; his pieces are more declamatory than those of the Renaissance composers, and Dante is a long way from Petrarch (the prime author of madrigal texts). But somehow the music, which is mixed up in the program, all hangs together, and this may be due to the sheer force of the Hilliard Ensemble's personality. The stark, haunting sound environment forged by ECM's engineers, working in a small parish church in the Austrian Alps, may also have something to do with it. © TiVo
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Classical - Released October 1, 1989 | ECM New Series

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Classical - Released November 17, 2017 | Warner Classics

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Classical - Released May 11, 1998 | ECM New Series

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Classical - Released September 14, 2001 | ECM

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Classical - Released March 1, 1991 | ECM New Series

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Classical - Released August 1, 1996 | ECM New Series

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Classical - Released November 1, 1987 | ECM New Series

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Classical - Released January 1, 1997 | Almaviva

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Classical - Released March 17, 2000 | ECM New Series

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Classical - Released March 30, 2007 | ECM New Series

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Classical - Released March 2, 2004 | ECM New Series

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Classical - Released January 13, 2009 | harmonia mundi

The period covered in the Hilliard Ensemble's 1982 recording Medieval English Music extends from the fourteenth century to the late fifteenth and was actually late-Medieval for England, though roughly contemporaneous with the beginning of the Renaissance era on the European continent. In musical terms, this album surveys from its outset the rhythmically complex and harmonically daring music that was influenced by court composers in France and Italy, known as ars subtilior or ars nova, and goes on to explore the later development of the English carol and other popular songs, which are perhaps more familiar sounding to modern ears. As experts in the field of early vocal music, the singers of the Hilliard Ensemble have mastered both the rarefied intricacies of the ars nova style and the common approach of the vernacular, so listeners are given a fine appreciation for the variety of music that existed at this time, as well as an entertaining treat, thanks to the lively performances. The group's vocal qualities change from piece to piece, so there is a nice mix of reedy tones and purer sonorities that prevents the program from becoming monotonous, and the alternation between sacred and secular music gives a rounded sampling of the two main genres that dominated this time. Harmonia Mundi's sound is exceptionally clean and close up, so nothing is missed in this terrific-sounding ADD recording. © TiVo
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Classical - Released January 1, 1984 | Warner Classics

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Classical - Released March 31, 2003 | ECM New Series

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Classical - Released March 30, 2012 | ECM New Series

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Classical - Released January 8, 2008 | Musical Concepts

These discs come from LPs recorded in the 1970s -- unfortunately the reader of the booklet does not learn exactly where or when from the booklet, which is also something of a graphic design catastrophe. The Hilliard Ensemble, formed in 1974, took a great leap forward in the investigation and performance of English Renaissance music. It took its name not from baritone and leader Paul Hillier but from that of an Elizabethan portraitist, Nicholas Hilliard. These discs cover a couple of generations' worth of English madrigals and other songs, interspersed with instrumental works and a few songs from other countries. None is well known even today, and all are on a level with the famous madrigals -- one of the things the Hilliard crew showed was that the Renaissance repertoire had depths that nobody beyond a few scholars had started to plumb. Overall, the performances hold up better than many others from the early days of early music. It's worth remembering that, until the relatively recent emergence of training programs specifically devoted to early music, singers had to forget almost everything they knew in order to perform this music effectively. A quick piece like Cornysh's Hoyda Hoyda Jolly Rutterkin (a rutterkin is a beguiler, in case you were wondering) comes through as an impenetrable mass of vibrato. But nowhere do the singers devote anything less than full awareness to the words they are singing, and many of the slower pieces have a refreshing presence of passion and absence of cuteness. The composers for the music on disc two are not specified, but you can figure most of them out from the booklet (two pieces are by Henry III himself, but most are anonymous). Most of the performers making music from the Renaissance era today have relied to some degree on these recordings as models, and they're still very much worth hearing. No texts are included. © TiVo
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Classical - Released October 1, 1996 | ECM New Series