The Hilliard Ensemble: Music from the Time of Christian IV (APE)
The Hilliard Ensemble: Music from the Time of Christian IV (APE)

Performer: The Hilliard Ensemble
Composer: Mogens Pedersan, Thomas Schattenberg, Vincentius Bertholusius, Thomas Mancinus
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: Bis
Size: 245 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

01. Messe (from Pratum Spirituale, 1620): Kyrie
02. Messe (from Pratum Spirituale, 1620): Gloria
03. Messe (from Pratum Spirituale, 1620): Credo
04. Messe (from Pratum Spirituale, 1620): Sanctus
05. Jubilus S. Bernhardi, motets (39) in 4 parts: Jesu tua dilectio
06. Motets (6) from Jubilus S. Bernhardi: No. 1, O dulcissime Jesu: O Jesu mi dulcissime
07. Jubilus S. Bernhardi, motets (39) in 4 parts: Amor Jesu dulcissimus
08. Jubilus S. Bernhardi, motets (39) in 4 parts: Jesú decus Angelicum
09. Sacrae Cantiones, motets in 6 to 10 parts (Book 1): Ego flos campi
10. Cantio Nova, motet in 6 parts
11. Mass: Kyrie
12. Mass: Gloria
13. Mass: Credo
14. Mass: Sanctus
15. Mass: Agnus Dei

Fame is a Lottery

Mogens Pederson, Vincentius Bertholusius, Thomas Mancinus, and Thomas Schattenberg are “minor” composers by virtue of the fact that they missed the historical lottery of posthumous fame, but the music of theirs sung on this CD is not minor music. It’s skillfully composed, sophisticated in affect, and delightful to hear; all but perhaps the anonymous mass could be judged worthy of a major composer like Heinrich Schuetz, the obvious standard of comparison for composers of the reign of King Christian IV of Denmark (1588-1648), whose court Schuetz visited in 1634. Christian IV maintained one of the largest and most competent musical entourages in Europe in his era; singers, instrumentalists, and a distinct corps of trumpeters. He sponsored Danish musicians to study abroad and he invited foreign musicians, notably John Dowland, to Denmark. Copenhagen in his day was not a musical backwater, nor an artistic wasteland; the ceiling fresco on the cover of this CD is from Christian IV’s palace of Rosenberg in Copehagen. All the music of this recording is essentially international in style. The texts are in Latin.

The usually all-male Hilliard Ensemble has added two women, sopranos Gillian Fisher and Tessa Bonner, for this recording. I must say, the results are stellar. Both sopranos sing with the clear, vibrato-free cornetto-like timbre that this music demands and that blending with the male voices requires. In fact the blend is better than on some Hilliard quartet recordings, where countertenor David James tends to be more dominant than consonant. Gillian Fisher’s voice is especially lovely and consonant on the brief mass from Pederson’s Pratum Spirituale that opens the performance.

Well recorded, well sung, well chosen! High fives all around!

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