WORKS: Plainsong Mass (Graduale Romanum, Toul)
PERFORMER: Hilliard Ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: 457 851-2
The Hilliard Ensemble eloquently illustrates the profound influence of polyphony on Gregorian chant in the 17th century with this revelatory programme of Victoria’s Officium defunctorum and a selection of Palestrina works entitled ‘In paradisum’. By electing to perform this music – much of which retains its responsorial pattern of alternating polyphony and chant – in the context of a French plainsong version of the Requiem, the Hilliard underlines this repertoire’s pointed textual enhancement.
The superb acoustical presence of the recordings illuminates this group’s exquisite shapeliness in the mensural plainchant and captivating emotional power in Victoria’s and Palestrina’s polyphony. From the comforting Taedet animam meam at the beginning to the upward looking Libera me Domine by Palestrina at the end the Hilliard present a confident and persuasive expression of faith in ultimate salvation.
Poised precision in Domine quando veneris and Victoria’s Libera me Domine gives the insistent penitential pleading in these pieces added potency, while lively singing in the imitative counterpoint and fullness in the homophony highlights the anguished intensity of Ad Dominum cum tribularer clamavi. Finally, the Hilliard’s sustained concentration in Peccantem me Quotidie and Heu mihi Domine resonates with touching humility, emphatically pointing the way towards a spiritual vision of eternal light ‘in Paradisum’.