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Josquin Desprez: Motets & Chansons
Josquin Desprez, Paul Hillier, The Hilliard Ensemble
Josquin Desprez: Motets & Chansons
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (13) - Disc #1

The Hilliard Ensemble bathes these vital vocal works by Josquin in a Mediterranean light: clear, warm, and brilliant. Josquin was a northerner who, like so many other composers of the Renaissance, descended to Italy to pur...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Josquin Desprez, Paul Hillier, The Hilliard Ensemble
Title: Josquin Desprez: Motets & Chansons
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: EMI Classics
Release Date: 1/21/1997
Genre: Classical
Styles: Opera & Classical Vocal, Historical Periods, Early Music
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 724356130227, 724356130258

Synopsis essential recording
The Hilliard Ensemble bathes these vital vocal works by Josquin in a Mediterranean light: clear, warm, and brilliant. Josquin was a northerner who, like so many other composers of the Renaissance, descended to Italy to pursue his career. The singers bring to life the composer's marriage of the Flemish preoccupation with technique and the southern instinct toward lyricism. This is an extraordinary disc. --Joshua Cody

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CD Reviews

The Orlando Consort sings Desprez much better...
Boileau0663 | Tournai, Belgique | 03/28/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This unexpensive and rather short cd offers a selection of Desprez's works, both sacred and profane in a 50/50 ratio.

While some people may find the contrast between the (extremely)slow, stately religious pieces and the quick, playful songs in French and Italian stimulating, I found it slightly disturbing. I definitely would have preferred a selection of pieces with a greater unity of mood and style.

While the performance is certainly first-rate, the recording seems to me to be below average: when you turn up the volume, an annoying hum is heard in the background. Is this problem due to the inferior quality of my hi-fi? It might be, but the fact is that this maddening defect has appeared only on very few of my cds (it is also very evident on recordings of the King's College Choir).

I recommend in addition to this cd Ockeghem's Mass "De plus en plus" by the Orlando Consort. Ockeghem's Great Lament for the death of Jean Binchois is in my opinion much more beautiful and moving than Desprez's own lament for Ockeghem on this cd.

I also warmly recommend "Desprez: Motets", also by the Orlando Consort, an imported October 2000 Deutsche Grammophon CD, for me one of the best, if not the best Renaissance sacred music recording. IMHO, The Orlando Consort sings and interprets Desprez infinitely better than the Hilliard Ensemble and even beats the Tallis Scholars.

The total duration of this recording is 50 minutes.

Guy Cutting | 06/12/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Josquin predated some of the other Renaissance masters (Palestrina, Victoria, Tallis, etc.) by 100 years or more. As a result, his compositional range embraces both the medieval and Renaissance idioms. His pieces represent a vast range of styles. The pieces recorded here are no exception. Josquin's Ave Maria is, at least in my opinion, a quintessential piece of Renaissance music and a perfect Marian motet. All sorts of technical skill is evident - it is a masterpiece of imitative polyphony. But to speak about it in those terms does it injustice, for it is one of the most serenely beautiful pieces of music ever composed. Josquin gives the text a perfect reading - matching its lyricism with beautiful musical lines and stunning harmonies. This piece alone is worth the price of the disc. The other motets are wonderful as well. De profundis clamavi, sung in a low register, begins with descending motives and a dark minor tonality which denote the despair conveyed by the text. Again, the other pieces are similiary fine, but I don't have the space to talk about them all individually. I'm not nearly as familiar with Josquin's secular music, but the madrigals on this recording are of a similiar quality. Emotion ranges from heartbreak to exuberance and it is all effectively conveyed. If you read my other reviews on, you'll know that the Hilliard Ensemble is one of my favorite groups, and this recording shows why. As I always say, they are technically amazing - tone, balance, dynamics, and the rest are superb. Their interpretive choices are always sound. They manage to convey the sheer wonder of Ave Maria, the depth of emotion in De profundis clamavi, and the humor of El grillo all in the same sweep. Their choice of tempo is excellent - slow and relaxed in Ave Maria, quicker in the motets (Ave Maria is as slow as I've heard it, but it's perfect - they give the music a chance to blossom and flow). This recording really is a must - unfortunately Vergin Veritas is one of the most unreliable early music labels. They put wonderful music to disc that can't be found anywhere else, but it is hardly ever available; I can't even count the number of recordings that I would kill to get but which are out of stock by the label. All that to say this: buy this recording while you can. You can't go wrong..."
Technically Perfect Pure Josquin, But A Bit Dry and Academic
Dr. Christopher Coleman | HONG KONG | 01/04/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I can't disagree with any of the other critics who have praised the music on this disc. Josquin is a superb composer who wrote deeply moving music with a wide range of emotional expression. The Hilliard Ensemble do sing beautifully--intonation is impeccable throughout, which is very difficult to do with such vibrato-less pure tone. And this is certainly an historically informed performance reflective of the best academic thought (to my knowledge) in the 80's, with a single male singer on each part. But it strikes me as a rather passionless performance, I'm sorry to say, as though the technical perfection came at the cost of emotional expression. I don't find that the dynamics and the tempo are excellent, as one of the other writers said--in fact I find them quite inappropriately reserved on many of the works. Absalom, Fili Mi is in my opinion one of the most heart-rending pieces of music ever written; yet here it scarcely engages me at all. Not that an overblown Romantic interpretation is appropriate, but I find it impossible to believe that the poetry Josquin set, which is so full of life in all its manifestations--love, lust, grief, the divine--would not be performed in a way which brought this out. These pieces are gorgeous, and there are better performances out there. In addition, the CD seems a bit scanty in terms of quantity. I'd like to recommend the Ensemble Janequin's CD Josquin Desprez: Adieu mes Amours, etc, which is less technically perfect (in particular, the Hilliard Ensemble's intonation is more consistently correct) but much more engaging."