Old Hall Manuscript

The Old Hall Manuscript
Hilliard Ensemble - Paul Hillier
EMI Reflexe 54111 [CD]
Virgin Edition 61393 [CD]

Contents:

  1. Queldryk: Gloria (a 4)
  2. Pia mater (a 3)
  3. Nesciens mater (chant)
  4. Bittering: Nesciens mater (a 3)
  5. Damett: Beata Dei genitrix (a 3)
  6. Pycard: Gloria (a 4)
  7. Power: Credo (a 3)
  8. Bittering: En Katerine solennia (a 3)
  9. Pennard: Credo (a 4)
  10. Beata progenies (chant)
  11. Power: Beata progenies (a 3)
  12. Sanctus (a 3)
  13. Ave regina (chant)
  14. Cooke: Ave regina (a 3)
  15. Power: Sanctus (a 3)
  16. Agnus Dei (a 3)
  17. Forest: Qualis est dilectus (a 3)
  18. Oliver: Agnus Dei (a 3)
  19. Alma redemptoris mater (chant)
  20. Forest: Ascendit Christus (a 3)
  21. Agnus Dei (a 4)
  22. Mayshuet: Are post libamina (a 4)
  23. Cooke: Stella celi (a 3)
  24. Damett: Salve porta paradisi (a 3)
  25. Post missarum solennia (a 4)

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

Playing time: 65'

Recording date: September 1990

Excerpts:
[3]-[4] Virgin Classics 0946 356902 2 4 [CD] Music from the time of the Crusades (1096 - 1270).

The Old Hall Manuscript is the earliest surviving English manuscript which includes substantial composer attributions. It dates from the beginning of the 15th century, and shows the English contribution to the late Ars Nova, as well as some smoother harmonies which foreshadow the future. As apparent above, the manuscript consists entirely of sacred music.

This is an all-male vocal recording, the numbers in parentheses above give the number of parts (always sung one-to-a-part). Those pieces without attributions are anonymous. This disc presents a nice selection of pieces from the manuscript, and contains a lot of music. It is not the sort of album which one would generally listen to at a single sitting, and indeed the variety in the different settings might be difficult to perceive on first acquaintance.

A recording from a Czech manuscript, with a large number of medieval-style motets:

Codex Speciálník
Hilliard Ensemble
ECM New Series 1504

A recording of similar scope, this time from a unique Swiss manuscript:

Codex Engelberg 314
Music of the Late Middle Ages
Schola Cantorum Basiliensis - Dominique Vellard / Wulf Arlt
Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 77185

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Todd M. McComb