This is yet another adventurous and haunting disc from the Hilliard Ensemble. Here they sing Roger Marsh's Il Cor Tristo, a contemporary setting of cantos from Dante's Inferno, among early 16th Century madrigals by Arcadelt and Pisano. It sounds pretty challenging but although it's not always an easy and relaxing listen, it is actually a very rewarding and enjoyable programme. The Arcadelt and Pisano pieces frame the Marsh beautifully and Marsh's work itself is dramatic and fascinating - and rather beautiful in places. I'm often not that keen on contemporary music, but I like this very much: it is undeniably 21st Century in character but is harmonically especially gripping, I find, with real drama and storytelling which keeps me thoroughly involved.
The Hilliards are thoroughly at home here. They bring their intense, haunting sound to both ancient and modern and it is very effective in both. They are technically superb and engage wonderfully with the music and text, completely involving the listener (well, this listener, anyway) in what they are singing. The acoustic is perfect: resonant without being over-boomy, and it makes the performances glow.
Even if you're not a big fan of contemporary music, I would recommend giving this a try. Like me, you might be surprised at how very much you like it. It's a fine recording which I recommend very warmly.