Utopia Triumphans

Utopia Triumphans
The Great Polyphony of the Renaissance
Huelgas Ensemble - Paul Van Nevel
Sony classical "Vivarte" SK 66261

Contents:

  1. Thomas Tallis: Spem in alium (à 40)
  2. Costanzo Porta: Sanctus (à 13) / Agnus Dei (à 14)
  3. Josquin Desprez: Qui habitat (à 24)
  4. Johannes Ockeghem: Deo gratias (à 36)
  5. Pierre de Manchicourt: Laudate Dominum (à 6)
  6. Giovanni Gabrieli: Exaudi me Domine (à 16)
  7. Alessandro Striggio: Ecce beatam lucem (à 40)

Performers: Superius: Barbara Borden, Annemie Buyle, Cathérine Joussellin, Uta Kirsten-Went, Marie-Claude Vallin, Dineke van der Sman, Ellen van Ham, Francisca Van Herle, Lize van Jaarsfeld, Els Van Laethem, Machteld van Woerden; Altus: Peter de Groot, Irene Heuvelmans, Brigitte Le Baron, Cecilia Roovers, Consuelo Sanudo, Arno Tabertshofer; Tenor: Christopher Kale, Lucien Kandel, Eric Mentzel, Philip Pooley, Jasper Schweppe, Eitan Sorek, Lieven Termont, Marius van Altena, Harry van Berne, Marc Van Daele, Stéphane van Dijck, Ibo van Ingen, Sjef van Leunen, Matthew Vine, John Vredeveldt; Bassus: Conor Biggs, Job Boswinkel, Willem Ceuleers, Lieven Deroo, Herman De Winné, Erik Hermans, Paul Mertens, Mitchell Sandler, Dirk Snellings, Dirk Van Croonenborch, Harry van der Kamp

Playing time: 53'

Recording date: September 1994

Excerpts:
[4] Sony Classical 82876-82812-2 [CD] Da Vinci: Music from his time

Compilation:
Sony Classic SBG 7478442 [CDx15] A secret Labyrinth

This recording features several of the largest scale (by number of parts) compositions of the Renaissance. Of course, Tallis' 40-part motet is the best-known. Alessandro Striggio (c.1535-1592) was apparently the inspiration for Tallis' 40-part motet, bringing his own such piece to England in 1567. Tallis was prompted to compose an English "reply."

The Huelgas Ensemble uncharacteristically performs all of these pieces without instrumental support, and indeed sings them standing in a circle. The effect can be very pleasing over good audio equipment.

The logical "next volume" of the present production:

A 40 voix
Huelgas Ensemble - Paul Van Nevel
Harmonia Mundi 801954 [SACD]

Costanzo Porta (c.1529-1601) left a huge body of music, written largely in the style of Costanzo Festa (c.1490-1545). The selected excerpts are from his Missa Ducalis.

A recording devoted to Porta:

Porta: Madrigali / Motetti / Missa quatuor vocum
Ensemble Les Nations - Maria Luisa Baldassari / Ensemble Speculum Musicae - Marina Malavasi
Tactus 524101

The more modest 6-part motet of Pierre de Manchicourt (c.1510-1564) is recorded with two singers to a part.

Of course, Josquin, Ockeghem & Gabrieli are well-known. Josquin's motet is a setting of Psalm 90, and rather unique in his output. The 36-voice Deo gratias attributed to Ockeghem is actually a strict canon; whereas the attribution does date to the Renaissance itself, it remains highly dubious.

Another recording of large-scale Renaissance vocal music by the present ensemble:

Padovano: Messe à 24 voix
Huelgas Ensemble - Paul Van Nevel
Harmonia Mundi 901727

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Todd M. McComb