One of the world’s finest vocal chamber groups, The Hilliard Ensemble has a formidable reputation in the fields of both early and new music. The program featured on their farewell recording exemplifies its distinctive style and highly developed musicianship in both repertoires. At its heart is a work commissioned by the ensemble from British contemporary composer Roger Marsh: Il Cor Tristo, a setting of cantos 32 and 33 from Dante’s Inferno, which deftly blends Renaissance techniques with a modern idiom.
Marsh’s composition frames settings of Petrarch by 16th century composers Bernardo Pisano (1490-1548) and Jacques Arcadelt (c 1507-1568). As so often with the Hilliard singers, the transitions between “old” and “new” are seamless, and the album unfolds like a larger composition. Here one must also credit composer Marsh, who notes that his “primary concern has been to keep Dante’s words clear at all times, and thus you will find in this contemporary music many devices more usually encountered in music of much earlier times.”
jacques arcadel: solo-e-pensoso
Bernardo Pisano: Or vedi, Amor
Marsh’s Il Cor Tristo was premiered by The Hilliard Ensemble in Perugia, Italy in September 2008. The version here was recorded, along with the Pisano and Arcadelt pieces, in November 2012, at the St Gerold monastery in Austria, location for outstanding Hilliard recordings including the collaborations with Jan Garbarek (Officium, Mnemosyne, Officium Novum) the Bach project with Christoph Poppen (Morimur), Arvo Pärt’s Da Pacem Domine, as well as motets of Guillaume de Machaut, 16th century English music (Audivi Vocem) and more.
roger marsh: il cor tristo – i
Il Cor Tristo is released as the Hilliards both celebrate their 40th anniversary and embark on their last year together; they gave their final concert on 20 December 2014 at London’s Wigmore Hall.
The Hilliards’ last year will be a creative summing-up; David Jones explains:
“As well as all the music that we have discovered and enjoyed performing over the years, we want to embrace the important relationships and people that have contributed to some of the remarkable landmarks and turning points in our career”.
The Hilliard Ensemble – Il Cor Tristo
ECM Records – ECM 2346
Released: 15 Nov 2013