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Philippe de Monte - Sacred Choral Music
In their third disc for Hyperion, the acclaimed vocal ensemble Cinquecento continue their exploration of the rich repertoire engendered in the Habsburg court. The prolific composer De Monte, Kapellmeister to the Emperor Maximilian II, wrote over a thousand madrigals as well as hundreds of sacred works, and the expressive aspects of the madrigal infuse his sacred music delightfully. His Missa Ultimi miei sospiri contains the constant interplay between groups of voices and dramatic word-setting which are features of the madrigal genre. The motets recorded here cover many Biblical and liturgical subjects and demonstrate the wide range of techniques and styles used by the composer.
“Despite being one of the 16th century's most prolific composers, with more than 1,000 madrigals and a substantial sacred output to his name, Monte is perpetually overshadowed by better known contemporaries such as Palestrina. His madrigalian talents are attractively in evidence in the motets which, along with the Mass, provide an enticing snapshot of his versatile musical personality. Detailed word-painting and an imaginatively dramatic response to his texts' changing moods are displayed in pieces such as Ad te levavi and Miserere mei.” The Telegraph, 3rd May 2008
“The six male singers of Cinquecento have a lot going for them. The voices are warmly recorded though a little too closely… their performances make it clear that Monte is a composer of distinction.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2008 ****
“An unusually gifted ensemble, both vocally and musically … Here is a group whose tone, vocal flexibility, collective and individual musicianship and commitment to their chosen repertoire places them at the very forefront of modern-day specialists in the performance of Renaissance vocal music” International Record Review
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Phillippe De Monte: Choral Works
“What a feast for lovers of Renaissance polyphony, and the only available recording of Philippe de Monte's parody mass Missa Aspice Domine, based on a motet by an earlier composer, Jacquet of Mantua, also included here. In general Stephen Darlington adopts a faster tempo for the mass than for the slow-moving motet, but the mood is still quietly pleading. One of the loveliest forward-looking movements is the Angus Dei: the trebles lead with the finely structured melody, the lower voices being more of an accompaniment than a clearly defined part of the polyphonic texture. Two of de Monte's original motets that follow are again settings of texts of earnest supplication. The most moving is the Miserere, with its opening phrases marked by an imaginative chord progression. Of the other three, we hear the composer's surprisingly loud-sounding 'silence in heaven' as Michael does the dragon in (Factum est silentium).” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
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