One of the world's finest vocal chamber groups, the Hilliard Ensemble, is unrivalled for its formidable reputation in the fields of both early and new music. The programme featured here - released to mark the beginning of the Hilliard Ensemble's 40th Anniversary season celebrations - exemplifies its distinctive style and highly developed musicianship in both repertoires.
At its heart is a work commissioned by the ensemble from British contemporary composer Roger Marsh: Il Cor Tristo, a setting of cantos 32 and 33 from Dante's Inferno, which deftly blends Renaissance techniques with a modern idiom. Marsh's composition frames madrigals by 16th century composers Bernardo Pisano (1490-1548) and Jacques Arcadelt (c 1507-1568). As so often with the Hilliard singers, the transitions between "old" and "new" are seamless, and the album unfolds like a larger composition. Credit to Roger Marsh, who notes that his "primary concern has been to keep Dante's words clear at all times, and thus you will find in this contemporary music many devices more usually encountered in music of much earlier times."
Marsh's Il Cor Tristo was premiered by the Hilliard Ensemble in Perugia, Italy in 2008. The version here was recorded, along with the Pisano and Acadelt pieces, in November 2012, at the St Gerold monastery in Austria, location for outstanding Hilliard recordings including the collaborations with Jan Garbarek (Officium, Mnemosyne, Officium Novum), the Bach project with Christoph Poppen (Morimur), Arvo Pärt's Da Pacem Domine, as well as motets of Guillaume de Machaut, 16th century English music (Audivi Voci) and more.
Personnel: David James (countertenor), Rogers Covey-Crump, Steven Harrold (tenor), Gordon Jones (baritone)
ECM 2346; ECM RECORDS - Germania; Classica vocale