Hilliard Ensemble - Paul Hillier
ECM New Series 1385 / 837 751-1 [LP]
ECM New Series 1385 / 837 751-2 [CD]
ECM (Universal) 837 751


  1. Perotin: Viderunt omnes (7 voices)
  2. Anon: Veni creator spiritus (3 voices)
  3. Perotin: Alleluia posui adiutorium (5 voices)
  4. Anon: O Maria virginei (3 voices)

  5. ----
  6. Perotin: Dum sigillum (2 voices)
  7. Anon: Isaias cecinit (3 voices)
  8. Perotin: Alleluia nativitas (7 voices)
  9. Perotin: Beata viscera (1+5 voices)
  10. Perotin: Sederunt principes (7 voices)

Performers: David James, John Potter, Rogers Covey-Crump, Mark Padmore, Charles Daniels, Gordon Jones, Paul Hillier

Playing time: 68'

Recording date: September 1988;
Rel.: 1989

This is one of the most widely admired recordings of music of this era; people from all backgrounds seem to enjoy it. The first & last tracks are particularly impressive.

The polyphonic style of the era was to place a theme (chant, in the case of liturgical settings) in the tenor (the lowest voice) in long notes, and then to add "decoration" in the upper voices. As such, the lines are not really independent, but are dominated rhythmically by "cells" given by the notes of the tenor. This is the typical organum. In the conductus (non-chant based), the two main lines are sometimes more independent melodically, but the rhythms are substantially similar. There is also a large body of monophonic conducti (organa are polyphonic, by definition; the monophonic version would be plainchant).

For more discussion of this harmonic language, see Thirteenth-Century Polyphony: A Quick Guide to Combinations and Cadences.

A much more recent video featuring the present ensemble & repertory:

Thy Kiss of a Divine Nature
The Contemporary Perotin
Hilliard Ensemble
Arthaus Musik 100 695 (2 DVDs + CD)

A similarly motivated program in a somewhat similar style:

Mystery of Notre Dame
Chant & Polyphony
Orlando Consort
Archiv 453 487

And another recording with Hillier:

The Age of Cathedrals
Music from the Magnus Liber Organi
Theatre of Voices - Paul Hillier
Harmonia Mundi USA 907157

A recording devoted to Perotin's predecessor at Notre Dame, Leonin:

Magister Leoninus
Sacred Music from 12th century Paris
Red Byrd / Cappella Amsterdam - John Potter & Richard Wistreich
Hyperion 66944

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Todd M. McComb