The Hilliard Ensemble: Palestrina - Canticum canticorum, Spiritual Madrigals (2 CD, APE)
The Hilliard Ensemble: Palestrina - Canticum canticorum, Spiritual Madrigals (2 CD, APE)

Composer: Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Audio CD
SPARS Code: DDD
Number of Discs: 2
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: EMI
Size: 392 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

Disc 1:
01. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Osculetur me osculo oris sui
02. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Trahe me post te curremus
03. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Nigra sum sad formosa
04. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Vineam meam non custodivi
05. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Si ignoras te
06. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Pulchrae sunt genae tuae
07. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Fasciculus myrrae
08. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Ecce tu pulcher es
09. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Tota pulchra es amica mea
10. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Vulnerasti cor meum
11. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Sicut lilium inter spinas
12. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Introduxit me rex in cellam
13. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Laeva ejus sub capite meo
14. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Vox dilecti mei
15. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Surge propera amica mea
16. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Surge amica mea
17. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Dilectus meus mihi
18. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Surgam et circuibo civitatem

Disc 2:
01. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Adiuro vos filiae Ierusalem
02. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Caput ejus aurem optimum
03. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Dilectus meus descendit
04. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Pulchra es amica mea
05. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Quae es ista quae progreditur
06. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Descendi in hortum nucum
07. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Quam pulchri sunt gressus tui
08. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Duo ubera tua sicut duo hinnuli
09. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Quam pulchra es
10. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Guttur tuum sicut vinum optimum
11. Canticum canticorum (Motets, book 4): Veni, dilecte mi
12. Stanze sopra La Vergine Il Primo Libro de Madrigali A Cinque Voci: 1581): I. Vergine bella, che di sol vestita
13. Stanze sopra La Vergine Il Primo Libro de Madrigali A Cinque Voci: 1581): II. Vergine saggia, e del bel numer’una
14. Stanze sopra La Vergine Il Primo Libro de Madrigali A Cinque Voci: 1581): III. Vergine pura, d’ogni part’intiera
15. Stanze sopra La Vergine Il Primo Libro de Madrigali A Cinque Voci: 1581): IV. Vergine santa, d’ognigratia piena
16. Stanze sopra La Vergine Il Primo Libro de Madrigali A Cinque Voci: 1581): V. Vergine sol’al mondo senza esempio
17. Stanze sopra La Vergine Il Primo Libro de Madrigali A Cinque Voci: 1581): VI. Vergine chiara e stabile in eterno
18. Stanze Sopra La Vergine Il Primo Libro De Madrigali A Cinque Voci: 1581): VIII. Vergine Quante Lagrim’Ho Gia Sparte
19. Stanze Sopra La Vergine Il Primo Libro De Madrigali A Cinque Voci: 1581): VIII. Vergine, Tal E Terra E Post’Ha In Doglia

There’s good reason to suppose these erotically spiritual motets, which are far too polyphonic and too artistic for use in the Pope’s service, were in fact written to be sung in the devotional gatherings initiated by (Saint) Phlip Neri in Rome in the 1560s and 1570s. The singers would have been Palestrina’s male colleagues from the Vatican choirs, probably from the Julian Chapel choir. Palestrina had an entrepreneurial side and issued these and other motets in printed form in 1584, for the use of confraternities of musical taste hither and yon. The texts in Latin, from the Song of Solomon, would have been comprehensible to such gentlemen singers, and would have required an allegorical interpretation.

This is one of the Hilliard Ensemble’s finest recordings, singing one on a part with utmost rhythmic independence and fluidity, yet with faultless attacks and cadences, and deliciously precise tuning. Another reviewers faults the performance for the voice quality of countertenor David James; I’m rather sick of complaints about countertenors, but in this case, James does slightly overshadow soprano Lynne Dawson. That’s the only weakness of the performance. The solution would have been to replace Dawson with a countertenor of equal sonority to David James, but such singers were scarce in 1986, when this recording was made. In any case, this is one of the best performances of Palestrina available.

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