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40 Voix Hybrid SACD - DSD, Import


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Audio CD, Hybrid SACD - DSD, Import, February 13, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Amazon.com

This dazzling CD offers huge Renaissance pieces performed by the always spectacular Huelgas Ensemble under Paul van Nevel. The taste for complex polyphony was at its peak in the late 16th century. The Italian composer Alessandro Striggio amazed the civilized world with a motet in 40 parts, driving the Englishman Thomas Tallis to compose one even more complex in the same number of parts to honor Queen Elizabeth. It still hasn't been surpassed in formality and stringent creativity. Other works on this CD are a Gloria by Gomez in 12 parts, a Qui habitat by Desprez in 24 voices, and a lush 16-part work by Giovanni Gabrieli, among others. Van Nevel and his group (and the superb engineers) keep every line clear, with round tone balanced throughout all the vocal ranges, with the long, melodic lines flowing so naturally that the listener never gets lost. The Desprez reminds me of some works by Antoine Brumel, with imitation so close and frequent that the effect is that of a pulsating organism. The CD opens with a 35-voice piece by the contemporary composer Willem Ceuleers (a member of the Huelgas Ensemble, born in 1963), and while its harmonies certainly are not Renaissance, it is in spirit the kind of polyphony on the rest of the CD. Perhaps listening to this 71-minute CD in one sitting would be too rich; it's a feast to be savored. --Robert Levine

1. Nomen Mortis Infame
2. Gloria
3. Qui Habitat
4. Jesus Autem/Credo In Deum
5. Ecce Beatam Lucem
6. En Venant De Lyon
7. Lauda Jerusalem
8. Exaudi Me Domine
9. Spem In Alium

Product Details

  • Conductor: Paul Van Nevel
  • Composer: Josquin Desprez, Giovanni Gabrieli, Joao Lourenco Rebelo, Alesandro Striggio, Thomas Tallis, et al.
  • Audio CD (February 13, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD - DSD, Import
  • Label: Harmonia Mundi Fr.
  • ASIN: B000HXDS0E
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,010 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Sumella on August 25, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Now, this is what I call Brilliance! The Best performance from the Best Ensemble, the Best recording from the Best label Harmonia Mundi. Thanks to the high quality standards maintained by Harmonia Mundi, this recording is so far the highest resolution we have heard.

Buy this with confidence!
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Maddy Evil on December 3, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Taken from live performances in celebration of the Huelgas Ensemble's 35th birthday in 2005, this CD is both beautifully executed and attractively presented. Programmatically, it is rewarding too, drawing together numerous large-scale polyphonic masterpieces from the Renaissance and placing them alongside a newly commissioned work by Willem Ceuleers, a bass in the Huelgas Ensemble, written in 35 parts (i.e. one voice part for each year).

So why only 3 stars...?

My only real gripe with this recording - although admittedly, it is significant - lies in the fact that it features four works which have already appeared in virtually identical interpretations on a previous recording by the Huelgas Ensemble (Utopia Triumphans, Sony SK 66261, recorded 1995): they are

3. Josquin - "Qui habitat"
5. Striggio - "Ecce beatam lucem"
8. Gabrieli - "Exaudi me Domine"
9. Tallis - "Spem in alium".

In all, this equates to a total of nearly half the CD, both in terms of the number of pieces performed (4 out of 9) and in terms of the total duration (nearly 30 minutes out of 62)!

This observation is all the more bewildering (or even lamentable?) given that there are many other large-scale Renaissance works which could have been performed in their place - these include the 19-voice motet "O bone Jesu" by Robert Carver (c.1484-1567); the 12-part canon "Iste est speciosa" by Mathieu Gascongne (fl.1513-18); a 20-part canon by Giovanni Maria Nanino (c.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sid Nuncius TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 1, 2013
Format: Audio CD
I like this disc. It is taken from concert performances of large-scale Renaissance works (plus one very good modern piece) and is a tour de force from the excellent Huelgas ensemble. The largest-scale are Striggio's Ecce beatam lucem and Tallis's justly famous Spem in alium, both for the 40 voices which give the disc its name. In addition there are works by Josquin, Wylkinson and others, including a very good (if perhaps over-long) 35-part work by Willem Ceuleers written to mark the Huelgas' 35th anniversary in 2006, of which this concert is a celebration. It's a fine selection of pieces, several of which the Huelgas Ensemble performed on their very good Utopia Triumphans disc.

These are very good concert performances, full of engagement with the text, remarkably good intonation and a rather free, celebratory feel which I like a lot and which isn't often found in studio performances. My only reservation is that an entire disc of these multi-voiced works is very rich fare, and I find it hard to take the whole thing at once. Individually they are very enjoyable, but I find I do need a sort of palate cleanser after a couple of tracks and have to listen to something else before returning to the disc.

Other than that, can recommend this as an enjoyable and at times very moving disc of extremely fine music.

(By the way, if you're just looking for a recording of Spem in alium, this probably isn't the one to begin with. It's an engaging live performance, but for a performance to listen to again and again I would recommend the fabulous version on Magnificat's brilliant disc of Tallis's works: Thomas Tallis: Spem in alium )
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