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Gombert: Missa Media Vita / Hilliard Ensemble


Release Date: 01/10/2006 
Label:  Ecm   Catalog #: 000591702   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Nicolas Gombert
Performer:  Robert [Bass Voice] MacDonaldAndreas HirtreiterDavid JamesGordon Jones,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hilliard Ensemble
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The music of Flemish composer Nicolas Gombert (accent it like "Dilbert"), active in the first generation after Josquin in the 1530s and 1540s, has remained almost completely untouched by the growth in audience enthusiasm for Renaissance music in recent years. Is this because, according to one of those music-historical sidelights reproduced in the notes here, Gombert was once fired from a job for committing "gross indecency" with a choirboy? More likely it's the relatively unchanging texture of his unaccompanied choral music; although it is far from inexpressive, it is quite dense. His language is derived from that of his mentor Josquin, but there are no high-relief points of imitation to grab onto, no moments of Read more lucidity. It's sort of a Renaissance wall of sound, dark-colored, but with flashes of intense red and blue.

The Hilliard Ensemble may succeed in reversing the deficit of Gombert sales. Gombert wrote for low voices, and the complement of singers used here -- a countertenor, tenors, (three of them for the Josquin tribute piece Musae Iovis, fewer on some other works), a baritone, and a bass -- is perfect for the murky mysticism of Gombert's music. The central expressive device in Gombert's music, as in some of Josquin's darker motets, is the use of passages in which the music wanders into intense dissonance, and the Hilliard Ensemble has a wonderful feel for these.

The sequence of the tracks on the disc is odd. One Mass Ordinary, the Missa Media Vita in Morte Sumus (the "In the Middle of Life We Are Already Dead Mass"), is presented along with six motets, including one that furnished the basic material for the mass. But the mass is broken up, with the motets performed in between its individual sections. It's possible that the Hilliard intended to vary the texture a bit; the mass is written for five voices, while the motets, with one exception, are for either four or six. But the mass does, despite its density, hang together; there is a consistency of mood and of dissonance treatment across its sections that is lost when it is broken up. Nevertheless, this disc is a fine introduction to Gombert's music, and a worthwhile purchase for anyone already enamored of the Hilliard's sound. ECM's marvelous sound makes use of the Propstei St. Gerold, a hall at an Austrian monastery that has become a favorite of European engineers.

-- James Manheim, All Music Guide
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Works on This Recording

1.
Media vita in morte sumus by Nicolas Gombert
Performer:  Robert [Bass Voice] MacDonald (Bass), Andreas Hirtreiter (Tenor), David James (Countertenor),
Gordon Jones (Baritone), Rogers Covey-Crump (Tenor), Steven Harrold (Tenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hilliard Ensemble
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1539; Flanders, Belgium 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Propstei St. Gerold, Austria 
Length: 6 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
2.
Missa "Media vita" by Nicolas Gombert
Performer:  Steven Harrold (Tenor), Robert [Bass Voice] MacDonald (Bass), Andreas Hirtreiter (Tenor),
Rogers Covey-Crump (Tenor), David James (Countertenor), Gordon Jones (Baritone)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hilliard Ensemble
Period: Renaissance 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Propstei St. Gerold, Austria 
Length: 36 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Notes: This selection is sung in Greek and Latin. 
3.
Salve regina [Eia ergo] by Nicolas Gombert
Performer:  Andreas Hirtreiter (Tenor), David James (Countertenor), Rogers Covey-Crump (Tenor),
Gordon Jones (Baritone), Steven Harrold (Tenor), Robert [Bass Voice] MacDonald (Bass)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hilliard Ensemble
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1541; Flanders, Belgium 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Propstei St. Gerold, Austria 
Length: 8 Minutes 44 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
4.
Anima mea liquefacta est by Nicolas Gombert
Performer:  David James (Countertenor), Robert [Bass Voice] MacDonald (Bass), Rogers Covey-Crump (Tenor),
Andreas Hirtreiter (Tenor), Steven Harrold (Tenor), Gordon Jones (Baritone)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hilliard Ensemble
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1539; Flanders, Belgium 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Propstei St. Gerold, Austria 
Length: 6 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
5.
O crux splendidior by Nicolas Gombert
Performer:  David James (Countertenor), Robert [Bass Voice] MacDonald (Bass), Rogers Covey-Crump (Tenor),
Steven Harrold (Tenor), Gordon Jones (Baritone), Andreas Hirtreiter (Tenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hilliard Ensemble
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1552; Flanders, Belgium 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Propstei St. Gerold, Austria 
Length: 6 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
6.
Quam pulchra es by Nicolas Gombert
Performer:  Gordon Jones (Baritone), David James (Countertenor), Robert [Bass Voice] MacDonald (Bass),
Rogers Covey-Crump (Tenor), Andreas Hirtreiter (Tenor), Steven Harrold (Tenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hilliard Ensemble
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; Flanders, Belgium 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Propstei St. Gerold, Austria 
Length: 4 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
7.
Musae Jovis by Nicolas Gombert
Performer:  Andreas Hirtreiter (Tenor), Gordon Jones (Baritone), Robert [Bass Voice] MacDonald (Bass),
Rogers Covey-Crump (Tenor), David James (Countertenor), Steven Harrold (Tenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hilliard Ensemble
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; Flanders, Belgium 
Date of Recording: 05/2002 
Venue:  Propstei St. Gerold, Austria 
Length: 6 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Language: Latin 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 I'm gonna miss these guys July 10, 2014 By M. Harrison (Moultrie, GA) See All My Reviews "Finer listening now (2014) than when I first owned the CD. The Hilliards bring early music to life with a sense of both authenticity and personal expression. As one reviewer wrote, they are recognizable within a bar or two, not that I can recognize a time signature in much of this music. Mystical, transcendent, yet somehow exact. An ECM quality recording. Highly recommended." Report Abuse
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