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Music from the Time of Emperor Charles V
During the first half of the sixteenth century, there was no greater a ruler than the Emperor Charles V, whose court was lavishly supplied with music by composers of high talent. Charles had a personal enthusiasm for music, and his chapel was more or less in constant attendance on his travels. It is small wonder, then, that a number of the greatest composers of the age had some connection with him, including the Franco-Flemish composers Manchicourt, Cristóbal de Morales and Nicolas Gombert. Complementing these composers are the perhaps less well-known Guerrero and Jacobus Clemens non Papa. As members of the chapel choir of Charles V, most of these composers travelled the Empire widely, and were praised as among the outstanding masters of their time. Only Francisco Guerrero worked exclusively in Spain. To us the least well known of the Spanish composers of the period, and consequently the most underrated, he was the most admired Spanish musician of the second half of the sixteenth century, known for his Latin liturgical works. Manchicourt composed some of the most glorious music of the time, this CD including the well-known early motet O Virgo virginum along with the premiere recording of the Agnus Dei from the Missa Reges terrae. De Morales is widely recognised as the most important figure in early sixteenth-century Spanish music, garnering frequent praise from his contemporaries and ranking with Palestrina in his mastery of polyphony. Nordic Voices here present two of his sumptuous and richly varied motets.
“Nordic Voices' mixed six-voice configuration (two sopranos, one each of mezzo, tenor, baritone and bass) is beautifully suited to the music in this programme, and their clear, radiant performances, full of character, are vividly captured by the DSD recording on this hybrid disc. The ensemble sound is intimate and close yet individual voices exhibit an airiness and spaciousness.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2007 ****
“Intonation? Impeccable. Ensemble? Unfailing precision in phrasing, dynamics, color – everything finely tuned a
succession of works ever-changing in style and expressive meaning.” Washington Post
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“So much first-rate 16th-century music still remains unrecorded, but here's a welcome addition.
Philippe Rogier's death at the age of 35 in 1596 cut short a prolific stream of music. Worse was to come. In 1734 a fire destroyed the library of the Spanish royal chapel, which must have held a large number of his compositions (at the time of his death he was chief court musician to Philip II).
How large a number can be gauged from the terrible earthquake that struck Lisbon in 1755, swallowing up the royal library along with 243 works.
Today we're left with only 51, of which the present recital represents a sizeable proportion.
Rogier's music has Palestrina's imposing solidity and classical feel, but is more florid and freer in its use of dissonance. In this sense it looks forward to later Iberian music of the 17th century, achieving a sustained intensity in the motets. The Mass is a consummate demonstration, the skilful working out of a motet by Gombert, whose influence is very audible. The booklet-note rightly points out how Rogier develops his model in very different directions: the sequences that conclude most movements are persuasively managed, but sound utterly unlike Gombert.
Rogier's Mass Domine Dominus noster appears in a fine recording on Ricercar. But Magnificat's interpretation is of a different order. This is singing in the English tradition, but with greater warmth and richness than we're used to from mixed choirs of this kind. Given Rogier's predilection for fully scored writing, that richness pays dividends, as does the relatively large cast of 18 singers. Interpretation and music are well matched in more ways than one. Neither are strikingly original, but both make a striking impression.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
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