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Hilliard Ensemble

An entire class of English vocal ensembles, sometimes placed under an "Oxbridge Sound" umbrella, specializes in early music. Among the prestigious ranks of the Gothic Voices, the Tallis Scholars, Pro Cantione Antiqua, the Oxford Camerata, and the Sixteen, longevity and musical versatility placed the Hilliard Ensemble in a class almost of their own. Named for the great Elizabethan miniaturist painter Nicholas Hilliard, the Hilliard Ensemble grew out of the musical vision of baritone Paul Hillier, a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music, and his friendships with three other singers (two of them from Oxford). Their intention was to explore the then-less-heard musical riches of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Their musical odyssey covered music from the 11th to the 17th century, with a strong interest in new vocal music as well. Though Paul Hillier himself left the ensemble in 1990 to take American academic positions, the core membership remained otherwise fairly consistent: countertenor David James, tenors Rogers Covey-Crump and John Potter, and bass Gordon Jones. Tenor Steven Harrold joined when Potter left the ensemble in 1998.

The Hilliard Ensemble's work under Hillier's direction centered on English and "Netherlandish" music. Notable recordings included pathbreaking performances of Leonel Power and the Old Hall Manuscript, a large selection of music from the Continental generations influenced by the English style; the "Contenance Angloise" (Dufay, Ockeghem, and Josquin); and excellent renditions of later English composers such as Thomas Tallis and William Byrd. As an example of their many departures from this Renaissance main road, however, the Hilliard's catalog features a musically powerful and quite controversial 1989 recording of the music of Perotin. At all times, the singers performed almost exclusively one on a part (in contrast to the "choral" Tallis Scholars), with a characteristic full and resonant vocal production, and impeccable tuning. In addition, Hillier's individual approach emphasized historical pronunciation; he performed Latin texts by English composers, for instance, with regional Anglo-Latin dialects, thereby significantly altering the very sound of the music.

During Hillier's tenure as director, and even more spectacularly through the 1990s, the Hilliard Ensemble also devoted significant energy to the presentation of contemporary music. A large number of ECM label discs containing the tintinnabuli music of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt featured the ensemble, as did a 1995 recording of the music of Giya Kancheli, Abii Ne Viderem. A 1996 compilation, A Hilliard Songbook: New Music for Voices, presented the results of several years of the ensemble's direct commissions and Hilliard Composition Prizes; among the composers represented are Morton Feldman, James MacMillan, Ivan Moody, and Joanne Metcalf. A fascinating collaboration between the Hilliard Ensemble and jazz saxophonist Jan Garbarek yielded the 1994 Officium, bridging the centuries with esoteric flights of saxophone improvisation above the hyper-resonant landscape of the Hilliard group singing chants and spiritual motets -- a musical nexus that nearly defies description. The group appeared with the Arditti Quartet performing the music of Wolfgang Rihm in 2009 and with Fretwork in 2011 performing the music of Nico Muhly. Their 2013 release Il Cor Tristo juxtaposed 16th century music of Bernardo Pisano and Jacques Arcadelt with a new work by Roger Marsh. Transeamus, released in late 2014, was the last album the Hilliard Ensemble recorded before retiring at the end of that year, and marked their return to the music of the 15th century. ~ Timothy Dickey
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: English and Italian Renaissance Madrigals

Disc 1
Composer: Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi
Title: Cantiam Lieti Cantiamo
Composer: Antonio Caprioli
Title: E D'un Bel Matin D'amore
Title: Quella Bella E Biancha Mano
Title: Una Leggiadra Nimpha
Composer: Loyset Compere
Title: Venite Amanti Insieme
Composer: Philippe Verdelot
Title: Divini Occhi Sereni, Madrigal For 4 Voices (also For Voice & Lute, Arranged By Willaert)
Title: Con L'angelico Riso, Madrigal For 4 Voices (also For Voice & Lute, Arranged By Willaert)
Title: Madonna Il Tuo Bel Viso, Madrigal For 4 Voices (also For Voice & Lute, Arranged By Willaert)
Title: Fuggi, Fuggi, Cor Mio, Madrigal For 4 Voices (also For Voice & Lute, Arranged By Willaert)
Title: Si Lieta E Grata Morte, Madrigal For 4 Voices (also For Voice & Lute, Arranged By Willaert)
Composer: Jacques Arcadelt
Title: Se La Dura Durezza In La Mia Donna, Madrigal For 4 Voices, S. 2/52
Title: Ahime, Dov' È'l Bel Viso, Madrigal For 4 Voices, S. 2/1
Title: Madonna, S'io V'offendo, Madrigal For 4 Voices, S. 2/31
Title: Il Bianco E Dolce Cigno, Madrigal For 4 Voices, S. 2/18
Composer: Francesco Patavino
Title: Donne, Venète Al Ballo
Composer: Maddalena Casulana
Title: Morir Non Può Il Mio Cuore
Composer: Luca Marenzio
Title: Se La Mia Vita Da L'aspro Tormento, Madrigal For 4 Voices (Il Primo Libro De Madrigali A 4-6 Voci)
Composer: Cipriano de Rore
Title: Mia Benigna Fortuna
Title: Anchor Che Col Partire, Madrigal
Title: O Sonno
Composer: Giovanni Domenico del Giovane da Nola
Title: Chi La Gagliarda
Composer: Adrian Willaert
Title: Madonna Mia Famme Bon'offerta, Canzona For 4 Voices
Composer: Giovanni Domenico del Giovane da Nola
Title: Medici Noi Siamo
Composer: Vicenzo Bellavere
Title: Quandro Sarà Mai Quel Zorno
Composer: Orlande de Lassus
Title: Matona Mia Cara, Villanelle For 4 Voices, S. X/93
Composer: Giovanni Domenico del Giovane da Nola
Title: Tri Ciechi Siamo
Disc 2
Composer: Thomas Morley
Title: O Griefe, Even On The Bud, Madrigal For 5 Voices
Title: When, Loe, By Breake Of Morning, Madrigal For 2 Voices
Title: Aprill Is In My Mistris Face, Madrigal For 4 Voices
Composer: Thomas Weelkes
Title: Thule The Period Of Cosmographie, Madrigal In 2 Sections For 6 Voices
Composer: Thomas Morley
Title: Sweet Nimphe, Come To Thy Lover, Madrigal For 2 Voices
Composer: John Wilbye
Title: Sweet Hony Sucking Bees, Madrigal
Composer: Thomas Morley
Title: Miraculous Love's Wounding, Madrigal For 2 Voices
Composer: John Wilbye
Title: Adew, Sweet Amarillis, Madrigal
Composer: John Bennet
Title: Weep, O Mine Eyes (from Madrigals To Four Voyces)
Composer: Orlando Gibbons
Title: The Silver Swanne, Madrigal For 5 Voices
Composer: Thomas Weelkes
Title: O Care Wilt Thou Dispatch Mee, Madrigal In 2 Sections For 5 Voices
Title: Since Robin Hood, Madrigal For 3 Voices
Composer: Thomas Morley
Title: Fyre And Lightning From Heaven, Madrigal For 2 Voices
Composer: Thomas Weelkes
Title: Strike It Up Tabor, Madrigal For 3 Voices
Composer: Thomas Tomkins
Title: See, See The Shepheards' Queene For 5 Voices (madrigal)
Composer: John Ward
Title: Come, Sable Night
Composer: Thomas Vautor
Title: Sweet Suffolke Owle
Composer: Thomas Morley
Title: In Nets Of Goulden Wyers, Madrigals For 2 Voices
Composer: John Wilbye
Title: Draw On Sweet Night, Madrigal
x

Track List: Josquin Desprez - Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae / Motets

Disc 1
Composer: Josquin Desprez
Title: Ave Maria... Virgo Serena, Motet For 4 Parts
Title: Absalon, Fili Mi, Motet For 4 Parts (poss. Spurious)
Title: Veni, Sancte Spiritus, Motet For 6 Parts (Doubtful)
Title: De Profundis, Motet For 4 Parts (poss. Spurious)
Composer: Various Composers
Title: Scaramella Va Alla Guerra (a 4) (Desprez) / Scaramella Fa La Galla (a 4) (Compère)
Composer: Loyset Compere
Title: In Te Domine Speravi, For 4 Voices
Title: El Grillo, For 4 Voices
Title: Milles Regretz, Motet For 4 Voices
Title: Petite Camusette, Motet For 6 Voices
Title: Je Me Complains, Motet For 5 Voices
Title: En L'ombre D'ung Buissonet, Motet For 3 Voices
Title: Je Ne Me Puis Tenir D'aimer, Motet For 5 Voices
Title: La Déploration De La Mort De Johannes Ockenghem (Nymphes Des Bois), For 5 Voices
Disc 2
Composer: Josquin Desprez
Title: Missa "Hercules Dux Ferrariae", For 4 Parts
Title: Pater Noster/Ave Maria, Motet For 4 Parts (poss. Spurious)
Composer: Nicolas Gombert
Title: Lugebat David Absalon, Motet For 8 Voices
Title: Miserere Mei Deus, For 10 Voices
Title: To Solus Qui Facis Mirabilia, Motet For 4 Voices
x

Track List: Machaut: Messe De Notre Dame / The Hilliard Ensemble

Title: Messe De Nostre Dame, Mass For 4 Voices
Title: Je Ne Cesse De Prier ("Lay De La Fonteinne"), Lai For 3 Voices
Title: Ma Fin Est Mon Commencement, Rondeau For 3 Voices
x

Track List: Sacred And Secular Music From Six Centuries

Composer: Hermanus Contractus
Title: Salve Regina
Composer: Godefroy De St Victoire
Title: Planctus Ante Nescia
Composer: Guillaume De Machaut
Title: Quant Je Sui Mis Su Retour, Virelai For Voice
Composer: Guillaume Dufay
Title: Vergene Bella, Cantilena Motet For 3 Voices
Title: Gloria Ad Modum Tubae, For 4 Voices
Composer: Robert Fayrfax
Title: Most Clere Of Colour For 3 Voices
Composer: Thomas Tallis
Title: O Nata Lux De Lumine, Motet (hymn) For 5 Voices, P. 209
Composer: William Byrd
Title: Ne Irascaris (Also Anthems: "Let Not Thy Wrath" & "O Lord, Turn Thy Wrath"), Motet For 5 Voices (Satbar (Or T) B)
Composer: Anonymous
Title: Dezi, Flor Resplandeciente
Title: Nuevas, Nuevas, Por Tu Fe!
Composer: Francisco de Peñalosa
Title: Sancta Mater Istud Agas, Motet For 4 Voices
Composer: Mateo Flecha (i)
Title: El Jubilate
Composer: Heinrich Isaac
Title: Tota Pulchra Es, Motet For 4 Voices
Composer: Claude Goudimel
Title: Bonjour Mon Coeur
Composer: Clément Janequin
Title: Réveillez Vous, Cueurs Endormis, Chanson For 4 Voices ("Le Chant Des Oiseaux"), M. 2/67

Comments

Report as inappropriate
ngaimoko
Agreed. So why isn't "Morimur" on Pandora? It's a truly beautiful album, and revealed an entirely new side of Bach to me.
Report as inappropriate
i found the Hilliard Ensemble quite by accident, and their Morimur cd is pure magic.

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