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Pro Defunctis

Orlando De Lassus Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Product Details


1. Missa Pro Defunctis: Responsorium: Memento Mei Deus
2. Missa Pro Defunctis: Introitus
3. Missa Pro Defunctis: Kyrie
4. Missa Pro Defunctis: Graduale
5. Missa Pro Defunctis: Offertorium
6. Missa Pro Defunctis: Sanctus & Benedictus
7. Missa Pro Defunctis: Agnus Dei
8. Missa Pro Defunctis: Communio
9. Missa Pro Defunctis: Antiphona: In Paradisum
10. Prophetiae Sibyllarum: Carmina Chromatico
11. Prophetiae Sibyllarum: Sibylla Persica
12. Prophetiae Sibyllarum: Sibylla Libyca
13. Prophetiae Sibyllarum: Sibylla Delphica
14. Prophetiae Sibyllarum: Sibylla Cimmeria
15. Prophetiae Sibyllarum: Sibylla Samia
16. Prophetiae Sibyllarum: Sibylla Cumana
17. Prophetiae Sibyllarum: Sibylla Hellespontiaca
18. Prophetiae Sibyllarum: Sibylla Phrygia
19. Prophetiae Sibyllarum: Sibylla Europaea
20. Prophetiae Sibyllarum: Sibylla Tiburtina
See all 22 tracks on this disc

Product Description

Amazon.ca

Many listeners today avoid Requiems, presuming that funeral masses must be depressing. Not so--many of them, like the Lassus recorded here, have lovely major-key part-writing and a sweet, tranquil air. The Hilliard Ensemble captures these qualities beautifully at the beginning of this disc: the first three tracks contain their most engaging singing in years. By track four, unfortunately, their dour streak emerges: however attractive Lassus's writing, it's difficult to stay involved with performances so aloof. Disappointment turns to serious frustration with Prophetiae Sibyllarum (a set of verses purportedly prophesying Christ's birth). The astounding opening movement changes keys at least six times in 95 seconds; the reserved singing gives barely a hint that the music is at all unusual. For the Hilliard Ensemble at their best, try their Pérotin CD. To hear an engaging, enjoyable Renaissance Requiem, check out Duarte Lôbo's, performed by the Tallis Scholars. --Matthew Westphal

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Something standard, something new Dec 5 2005
By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
--Orlandus Lassus--
A composer of the late Renaissance period, Orlandus Lassus was born in 1532. Franco-Flemish in background, there is a legend that he was kidnapped three different times during his boyhood for his exquisite choir voice. Lassus produced over 2,000 works in Latin, Italian, French, and German vocal genres, practically every one known in his time. His versatility is virtually unmatched. Among the 2000 pieces were 530 motets (on religious and secular themes) and over 60 masses. His career was spent in the Low Countries, in Italy, and in Germany, and he traveled extensively throughout other European countries. He died in 1594 one of the most celebrated composers of the age.
--Requiem--
The mass here consists of the classic parts - Responsorium: 'Memento mei Deus', Introitus, Kyrie, Gradulae, Offertorium, Sanctus and Benedictus, Agnus Dei, Communio and an antiphon closing, 'In paradisum'. There are definite pieces here that introduced new standards to the way the requiem is structures in the Renaissance, leading to Baroque times. This is a very good example of a Requiem, with power and strong tones of spirit and joy.
--Prophetiae Sibyllarum--
The piece begins with the item entitled 'Carmina Cromatico', which no doubt refers to the kind of dissonant song that follows throughout this working of the Sibylline prophecies into music. Lassus wrote this piece in his early days as a gift to his patron, and it was not published during his lifetime. It incorporates a kind of compositional technique that Lassus in general did not employ in most of is work. There are twelve motets done in this style, and perhaps Lassus had in mind the dissonance of the pagan prophet in the age of Christendom when composing this piece.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tame Chromatic Lassus April 21 2003
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
I bought this CD for the Prophetiae Sibyllarum, a work I had never heard before. The Prophecies form a large scale work of Lassus's relatively brief chromatic period. Chromatic means that these pieces do not stay centered around a certain key, like D minor, but rather move rapidly from key to key, an approach to harmony that essentially disappeared from music after this period until Wagner. The chromatic approach fits the texts, which are poems that are Christian but with a strong pagan influence. (It would be an interesting problem to decide whether any of them would be acceptable as an anthem in a Roman Catholic Tridentine Latin mass). But they seem less chromatic than Gesualdo madrigals. I was actually disappointed that they did not sound more exotic. I managed to get a copy of the score, and when a group of us read through some of them, we found them fairly easy to sight-read, because the harmonic transitions are fairly natural to the ear, and like much of Lassus, their tempi are mostly on the slow side (which makes sense for Lassus because he wrote for cathedrals with long reverberation times). On balance, I found the Prophecies less musically inspired than I had hoped. But this is a fine recording of rare music, and I'm glad I own it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly done - not just for sacred music fans! Sept. 13 2000
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
I'd count this as among the best "classical" albums I've ever heard. The Hilliard Ensemble is inspired in their interpretation and flawless in their execution - David James'countertenor is particularly noteworthy.
The Missa pro defunctis which leads the album is a good piece of music, but the second piece, Prophetiae Sibyllarum is incomparable - complex, ethereal, inspired, and perhaps most of all, timeless. All of this is superbly captured by the Hilliard Ensemble.
Most of my interests lie in 18th century music, but I feel this is a must have for any "classical" and/or choral music lover.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tame Chromatic Lassus April 21 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I bought this CD for the Prophetiae Sibyllarum, a work I had never heard before. The Prophecies form a large scale work of Lassus's relatively brief chromatic period. Chromatic means that these pieces do not stay centered around a certain key, like D minor, but rather move rapidly from key to key, an approach to harmony that essentially disappeared from music after this period until Wagner. The chromatic approach fits the texts, which are poems that are Christian but with a strong pagan influence. (It would be an interesting problem to decide whether any of them would be acceptable as an anthem in a Roman Catholic Tridentine Latin mass). But they seem less chromatic than Gesualdo madrigals. I was actually disappointed that they did not sound more exotic. I managed to get a copy of the score, and when a group of us read through some of them, we found them fairly easy to sight-read, because the harmonic transitions are fairly natural to the ear, and like much of Lassus, their tempi are mostly on the slow side (which makes sense for Lassus because he wrote for cathedrals with long reverberation times). On balance, I found the Prophecies less musically inspired than I had hoped. But this is a fine recording of rare music, and I'm glad I own it.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly done - not just for sacred music fans! Sept. 13 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I'd count this as among the best "classical" albums I've ever heard. The Hilliard Ensemble is inspired in their interpretation and flawless in their execution - David James'countertenor is particularly noteworthy.
The Missa pro defunctis which leads the album is a good piece of music, but the second piece, Prophetiae Sibyllarum is incomparable - complex, ethereal, inspired, and perhaps most of all, timeless. All of this is superbly captured by the Hilliard Ensemble.
Most of my interests lie in 18th century music, but I feel this is a must have for any "classical" and/or choral music lover.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Luscious Lassus Dec 24 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I'm afraid I disagree with Westphal. After listening to the album a dozen or so times, I think it ranks among Hilliard's best. Yes, the performances are pristine and aloof--qualities that make their Gesualdo Tenebrae Responsories (ECM) a marvellous album. There is a place for the dramatisations of, for example, the Concerto Italiano, but for me these autere and musically serious pieces are not that place. The Prophetiae definitely do not lose interest for me, and part of the reason is Hilliard's superb intonation and phrasing. I like the performance of the Requiem (which at least at first glance sounds like the same one) as well as the performance by Bruno Turner and the Pro Cantione Antiqua (DHM), but Hilliard's inclusion of the plainchant intonations is a real plus. There is also good reason to pair the Requiem and the Prophetiae Sybillarum: though not going nearly as far as the Prophetiae, the Requiem does engage in some startling changes of mode and key (for example, near the start of the Offertory). The recorded sound is excellent, though with a fair amount of room reverberation.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Graceful, exquisite, serene April 7 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I also disagree with the Amazon review. This is one of the finest CDs I've heard in a long time. The vocal intonation is perfect yet not sterile, and the music is soaring and beautiful. I also like the surprisingly chromatic yet consonant Prophetiae (and I also like Gesualdo): it's really interesting to see that composers were experimenting with this kind of tonality over three centuries before "modern" composers.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something standard, something new Oct. 20 2005
By FrKurt Messick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
--Orlandus Lassus--

A composer of the late Renaissance period, Orlandus Lassus was born in 1532. Franco-Flemish in background, there is a legend that he was kidnapped three different times during his boyhood for his exquisite choir voice. Lassus produced over 2,000 works in Latin, Italian, French, and German vocal genres, practically every one known in his time. His versatility is virtually unmatched. Among the 2000 pieces were 530 motets (on religious and secular themes) and over 60 masses. His career was spent in the Low Countries, in Italy, and in Germany, and he traveled extensively throughout other European countries. He died in 1594 one of the most celebrated composers of the age.

--Requiem--

The mass here consists of the classic parts - Responsorium: 'Memento mei Deus', Introitus, Kyrie, Gradulae, Offertorium, Sanctus and Benedictus, Agnus Dei, Communio and an antiphon closing, 'In paradisum'. There are definite pieces here that introduced new standards to the way the requiem is structures in the Renaissance, leading to Baroque times. This is a very good example of a Requiem, with power and strong tones of spirit and joy.

--Prophetiae Sibyllarum--

The piece begins with the item entitled 'Carmina Cromatico', which no doubt refers to the kind of dissonant song that follows throughout this working of the Sibylline prophecies into music. Lassus wrote this piece in his early days as a gift to his patron, and it was not published during his lifetime. It incorporates a kind of compositional technique that Lassus in general did not employ in most of is work. There are twelve motets done in this style, and perhaps Lassus had in mind the dissonance of the pagan prophet in the age of Christendom when composing this piece. In any event, it is unlike most of Lassus' other work, and is a nearly unique offering in this time period, as the inspiration to write in chromatic style faded rather quickly.

--Hilliard Ensemble--

The Hilliard Ensemble was formed in 1974, and have been performing worldwide as well as recording extensively ever since. They have been described as 'the Rolls-Royce of vocal ensembles'; being a consort of only four men, the sound is remarkable. The singers are David James (countertenor), Rogers Covey-Crump, tenor, John Potter, tenor, and Gordon Jones, baritone. Their voices are remarkably well attuned to each other, and there is a solid but not overpowering intensity in their performances.

This is superb work, and a real treat for the listener.
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