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The Hilliard Ensemble: The Old Hall Manuscript

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 9, 1991
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Gloria
  2. Pia Mater
  3. Nesciens Mater
  4. Nesciens Mater
  5. Beata Dei Genitrix for 3 voices
  6. Gloria
  7. Credo
  8. En Katerine Solennia
  9. Credo for 4 voices
  10. Beata progenies, plainchant, for baritone
  11. Beata progenies, for 3 voices
  12. Sanctus for 3 voices in F
  13. Ave Regina caelorum
  14. Ave Regina caelorum for 3 voices
  15. Sanctus
  16. Agnus Dei cum tropis Quem virgo concepit ad missam in aurora
  17. Qualis Est Dilectus for 3 voices
  18. Agnus Dei for 3 voices
  19. Alma redemptoris mater, plainchant, for tenor
  20. Ascendit Christus for 3 voices
  21. Agnus Dei cum tropis Quem virgo concepit ad missam in aurora
  22. Are Post Libamina
  23. Stella Celi for 3 voices
  24. Salve Porta Paradisi for 3 voices
  25. Post Missarum Solennia


Product Details

  • Performer: Paul Hillier, Gordon Jones, David James, Ashley Stafford, Rogers Covey-Crump, et al.
  • Composer: Queldryk, Anonymous, Byttering, Thomas Damett, Pycard, et al.
  • Audio CD (July 9, 1991)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B00000DNOA
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,358 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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How did European music develop such complexity and sophistication in so short a time, leaving all the rest of the world behind? From the earliest written polyphony of St. Martial and Notre Dame, toward the end of the 13th Century, to the ars nova of the 14th C, to the musical gems recorded here from the Old Hall manuscript of 1410! Believe me, these small three-part compositions pack incredible harmonic and rhythmic sophistication and require the virtuosity of singers like the six members of the Hilliard Ensemble.

Two factors come to mind, to explain the rapid evolution of polyphony. First, that it emerged from well-established traditions of improvisation, of decorated part singing, which needed only a system of notation to become quickly elaborated. Second, that the culture of the High Middle Ages was saturated with music. The singing monks and cathedral chorists literally sang all day. Many monks, in fact, did nothing else but sing. They knew hundreds of hours of plainchant by heart. There's no way a person of our era can conceptualize how central music was to the lives of Medieval intellectuals, almost all of whom were 'employed' by the Church.

All the pieces recorded here are in Latin. Some are standard sections of the mass, but all the rest are liturgical -- antiphons that were intended for insertion into the cyclic chanting of the liturgical "Hours" amid the plainchant recitation of the Psalms. They were never heard alone, and of course were never meant for a concert audience. The manuscript was probably prepared for the Chapel Royal or for the private chapel of a prominent member of the English court. Thomas, Duke of Clarence and brother of Henry V, has been mentioned as a possible patron.
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I had great service and received exactly the great music CD that I had expected. What more could a person ask for???
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