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Morimur
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This is a really remarkable, beautiful disc. I am slightly surprised that I like it so much even though I am a long-term devotee of the Hillards' music because I generally don't like people "adding to" Bach's music, but this is a really thoughtful disc, full of beauty and intelligent musicianship.

The central thesis is that the D minor Partita for solo violin is in fact a memorial piece for Bach's wife Maria Barbara, containing countless references to death in the form of quotations from Bach's own chorales. The disc consists of a (very good) performance of the Partita by Christoph Poppen alternating with the Hilliards singing the related choral movements with a pure, delicate solemnity. Frankly, I have my doubts about the theoretical framework behind this even though detailed evidence is given in the extraordinary notes, but the musical effect of this performance is absolutely stunning and I ceased to care about the veracity of the theory very quickly. The climax of the disc is the magnificent Chaconne played while the Hilliards sing the relevant choral lines over it. Whatever you think of the idea (I didn't like the sound of it at all) it is an extraordinary musical experience: moving, involving and astonishingly beautiful.

Against my expectations, this disc has become a firm favourite of mine and I recommend it very warmly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 7 April 2014
Sorry, but there are a few things that do not please me in this recording.
To begin with, the place. The Monastery of St. Gerold, somewhere in Austria and surrounded by mountains, is an amazing place calling for introspection and spirituality. However, the recording took place in a highly reverberant room, quite different from the acoustics of the Lutheran churches where Bach lived and played. The place seems more appropriate to Gregorian Chant than to Bach polyphony and counterpoint. Legitimate? Of course! But when it is proposed an interpretation based upon a historical approach any detail should be neglected.
In second place I was not pleased with the interpretation. The violin player does not match the four voices in technical and emotion terms. So, there is some feeling of unbalance between the violin and the voices. The four voices of the Hiliard Ensemble remain simply beautiful, with plenty of musicality and spirituality. But their Bach interpretation seems a little bit too stiff and austere to me.
In third place I was not pleased with the Chaconne with voices following the proposals of Helga Thoene. To begin with, the sound is not good. The track mixing is badly done, the violin sounds too prominent and brilliant. The violin plays “against” the voices, no fusion occurs.
The Chaconne of the Partita BWV 1004 for solo violin, like other things in life, gathers its magic from what is implicit or simply suggested. When the analytical approach proposed by Thoene is transposed to the Chaconne itself, the result with the voices added is “less magic”. I think that if, instead, they used 20 instruments and 50 voices the final result would be even less!
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 15 November 2001
This is quiet outstandingly beautiful music that is the hallmark of the ECM New Series. Having been introduced to this whilst searching for a string quartet rendition of the Art of Fugue, I began to take an interest in their library.... Music such as this is indicative of the Baroque passion for layering different forms and types of music across each other, but the novelty here is the sheer originality of discovering such and the boldness of the performance.
The final rendition is a revalation of which I never fail to tire. For anyone interested in this period and form of interpretation of music, this is essential to any collection.
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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 20 September 2001
I am not a classical music fan.......and I'm also an agnostic!!! .....so it may perhaps surprise many people that I am writing a positive review of this classical, religion inspired music. I "came to" The Hilliard Ensemble about 6 years ago after their collaboration with Jan Garbarek on Officium and was instantly struck by the sheer purity of their music. Indeed I found to my surprise that I was more interested in the polyphony than the saxophone improvisation. This was further enhanced by attending a concert at St Bartholomew's Church in Brighton, East Sussex, where The Hilliard Ensemble and Jan Garbarek performed much of the Mnemosyne album.
This music has the typical quality hallmarks of virtually all ECM products. I cannot think of another label who could claim to produce the quality of recording that Manfred Eicher achieves. The blend of the ensembles voice and the baroque violin of Christoph Poppen, is a fine balance which, dare I say, even surpasses the blend with Jan's Saxes. This recording has given me a desire to find out more about music of this era and to enhance my knowledge......which must be lacking as although the liner notes were helpful, they were way "over my head" at one point.
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on 30 March 2014
beautiful music and performances. mistakenly thought that the ensemle had been joined by Jan Garberek on this CD too - not so
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on 14 April 2015
If you like the Bach Chaconne then this is a worthy disc for your collection.
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on 22 June 2015
Very Good
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 February 2011
This purchase was for a close friend, confident in the knowledge that she would get as much pleasure from it as I have from my copy. When you're in the right mood there's nothing to match it.
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7 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 7 July 2006
Bach's music has something of a purity and at first the concept of adding a couterpoint caused me a few doubts but listening to the Chaconne almost dispelled them- it is a breathtakingly beautiful performance, shame about Poppen's amateurish violin playing which slightly spoils the piece against Hilliard's angelic singing. They should have got Hilary Hahn to do it.

Another minor gripe is the changes to the Jesu meine Freude. That simply spoilt it.

But in summary a unique and beautiful if crassly flawed album. If you like Bach and want something a little different- get this: it is still a gem.
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