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The Eton Choirbook

Huelgas Ensemble Audio CD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
Price: 9.49 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

The Eton Choirbook + Choirs of Angels: Music from the Eton Choirbook, Vol. 2 + More Divine Than Human - Music from The Eton Choirbook
Price For All Three: 36.59

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Product details

  • Performer: Huelgas Ensemble
  • Audio CD (1 April 2013)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Music Classical
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 62,526 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

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Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Salve Regina 715:34Album Only
Listen  2. Magnificat 511:36Album Only
Listen  3. Gaude Virgo Mater Christi 612:51Album Only
Listen  4. Stabat Mater 613:39Album Only
Listen  5. Salve Regina 915:02Album Only

Product Description

Product Description

World premiere recordings of vocal works from The Eton Choirbook by one of the world’s greatest vocal ensembles. The Eton Choirbook is a richly illuminated manuscript collection of English sacred music, composed during the late 15th century. iIt is the kaleidoscope of tone colours combined with the extensive use of melismas (the singing of a single syllable of text whilst moving between several different notes in succession) found nowhere else in Continental Europe that make The Eton Choirbook uniquely fascinating.

Product Description

DHM 88765408852; DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI - Germania; Classica vocale sacra

Customer Reviews

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4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Groundbreaking...with a BIG caveat 25 Dec 2013
Format:Audio CD
This is NOT just another recording of a few pieces from the Eton Choirbook. It is so different from what came before that we may as well treat it as the FIRST recording ever made of music from the Eton choirbook.

The Eton Choirbook is a richly illuminated manuscript collection of late-15th century English sacred music, compiled for use at Eton College. It somehow miraculously survived the Reformation, and is the most important source we have for the repertoire of its era. 24 different composers, 64 surviving compositions, most complete, most on Marian texts just as one would expect from late-15th century Catholics.

The music in it has received plenty of attention over the last 50 years, starting with the Purcell Consort of Voices in the 1960s. I am not familiar with their recordings, which to my knowledge have never been re-released on CD, but I am very familiar with the recordings of this music done more recently (90s and noughties) by the Sixteen and the Tallis Scholars. These recordings have, in my opinion, three very serious defects.

First, both Peter Phillips (TS) and Harry Christophers (16) have as their ideal texture a kind of blended sound, such as would suit 19th-century part songs. Add to this the fact that they almost always transpose music upwards to fit the range of their admittedly virtuosic female soprani, and at worst, the result can be a top-heavy sound where all voices from the alti downwards congeal into a vague murmur accompanying the overbearing soprani.

Second, the TS and the 16 sing this music from modern scores, with barlines added, and Phillips and Christophers conduct it accordingly.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hello, hooray, what a nice day for the... 8 May 2013
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Do we need another recording of Eton Choirbook music? There are after all plenty knocking about, from the Tallis Scholars, a five disc set from The Sixteen, from Tonus Peregrinus and a couple from Christ Church Cathedral Choir.

There are some newly recorded pieces here from some of the lesser known composers featuring in the book - the blurb claims that three of the five pieces are world premiere recordings, which is not quite true as William Horewood's Magnificat for 5 voices has been done before. But John Sutton's Salve Regina for 7 voices and Edmund Sturton's Gaude Virgo Mater Christi for 6 voices are apparently genuine firsts. The other two are from more famous figures, namely John Browne's Stabat Mater for 6 voices and Robert Wilkinson's Salve Regina for 9 voices.

Director Paul van Nevel does an outstanding job here with his singers of capturing the intricacy of this unique music with its abundant florid ornamentation and stunning modulations & dissonances, and works the changes of personnel throughout the pieces so well. One can sense more of an effortless flow to these renditions, whereas with some other ensembles you can almost 'hear' the relentless 'beat' of the conductor at work. Van Nevel really brings something new to this music. So yes, perhaps it can be said that we do need this recording.

Where I have a bit of a problem however is in the recorded sound quality. A little too heavy in the mix with the sopranos for my taste (this happens all too often with this kind of music to be honest), but also there are some grating moments (mostly in the first couple of pieces, but not quite so much of a problem with the later works) where the harsh hissing of sibilants are captured, which are a bit off-putting.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trance Music 24 April 2013
Format:Audio CD
'These long works induce a degree of emotion that borders on a state of trance, so it is best to listen to no more than one a day.'

With this somewhat chastening warning, Paul Van Nevel introduces us to a selection of five works from the supreme collection of English Renaissance polyphony, the Eton Choirbook. It's something of a departure for the Ensemble, who have concentrated thus far on Continental choral music. Their extraordinarily lush yet rhythmically precise sound can be heard to great effect in works like Richafort: Requiem and Dufay: O gemma lux.

Van Nevel has chosen amongst his five three which have never before been recorded, and so even though the Choirbook is relatively well-served on disc (with recordings by The Sixteen, Tonus Peregrinus, Christ Church and the Tallis Scholars among them) this recording offers something new.

The pieces which make up the codex were written specifically for the daily cycles of Hours and Masses at Eton and for the evening Salve, which would have been performed in the College chapel before an image of the Virgin. The hypnotic effect of melismatic writing (the singing of one syllable to a series of notes) had been used for centuries, but it could be argued that it reached its zenith here. In these performances the scent of pre-Reformation mysticism hangs heavy in the air, and the long works gradually weave a spell which draws the listener into another place.

I take note of Van Nevel's exhortation, but with great resistance.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous singing
The Huelgas Ensemble are. to my ear, preferable with their bass sonorities , to the unearthly wailing of so many boy-treble-heavy choirs. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Charles Lewis
5.0 out of 5 stars Huelgas and Eton's florid polyphony
Those who know this music will have their own ideas of what to expect and how it should be performed. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Beresford Bell
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Tudor Church music.
A lovely programme of English Pre-Reformation music-some not recorded before.Beautiful performance of some of the treasures of the Eton Choirbook.
Published 9 months ago by Jamellbur
5.0 out of 5 stars Huelgas Ensemble Eton Choirbook.
This is a major recording both for the quality of the music and the singing - one to be welcomed expecially because van Nevel has dug deeper into the riches of the wonderful Eton... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Charles
5.0 out of 5 stars as always, they are good
I think that I have all available recordings of the Eton Choirbook. Without doubt this now is a worthy and necessary part of that collection. mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!
Published 10 months ago by Mr. B. Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars Eton Choirbook Bliss!
The new Huelgas Ensemble CD of 5 works (incl. 3 not recorded before) from the Eton Choirbook is amazing! Read more
Published 14 months ago by Derek J.
5.0 out of 5 stars A revelation
One of the joys of Early Music is that just when you think that you know what you like, there are still more obscure branches of sublime music to explore and delight in. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Dave
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