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The Hilliard Ensemble: Power – Masses and Motets (APE)

The Hilliard Ensemble: Power - Masses and Motets (APE)
The Hilliard Ensemble: Power - Masses and Motets (APE)

Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: EMI Classics
Size: 213 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

01. Ave Regina OH 43
02. Gloria OH 21
03. Beata Viscera
04. Credo OH 77
05. Sanctus OH 118
06. Agnus Dei OH 141
07. Salve Regina
08. Miss ‘Alma Redemptoris Mater’: I. Gloria
09. Miss ‘Alma Redemptoris Mater’: II. Credo
10. Miss ‘Alma Redemptoris Mater’: III. Sanctus
11. Miss ‘Alma Redemptoris Mater’: IV. Agnus Dei
12. Ibo Michi As Montem
13. Quam Pulchra Es

This analogue recording was made in Switzerland in 1980 and is, as far as I can gather, one of the first (if not the first) recording made by the Hilliard Ensemble for EMI. It contains the entire Mass known as “Alma redemptoris mater”, some individual mass movements from the Old Hall Manuscript (England, late 15th century) and five motets, all by the somewhat enigmatic figure Lionel (or Leonel) Power, who was Master of the Lady Chapel Choir at Canterbury Cathedral from around 1439 to his death in 1445. Power’s music is known mainly, but not solely, from the Old Hall Manuscript, and his name is usually associated with that of John Dunstable (Dunstaple) as the chief representatives of the “contenance angloise”, the English development in polyphonic music in which older forms were combined with newer styles from France and Italy. Anyone listening to this disc will immediately recognize certain turns of phrase which are both backward- and forward-looking; some of the music sounds a little like Machault, other parts more like Dufay.

The Hilliard team does a splendid job of capturing this admittedly not easy music on disc. There are seven singers involved (David James, Ashley Stafford, Paul Elliott, Leigh Nixon, Rogers Covey-Crump, Paul Hillier and Michael George), but not all perform on all the tracks. (The final motet “Quam pulchra”, for example, is for three voices and is performed here by Paul Elliott, Paul Hillier and Michael George.) The voices blend magnificently, as usual, although on several tracks the countertenors (not necessarily to everybody’s taste) do tend to dominate. The recorded sound is excellent, although I found listening via headphones a little more convincing than via loudspeakers, but that may just be a personal preference.

If you enjoy this disc, then you should probably also purchase the Hilliards’ recordings of John Dunstable’s motets and of music from the Old Hall Manuscript, both of which were also made for EMI and have been re-released on Virgin.

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