Sunday, 19 June 2016

Gombert - Missa Media Vita etc - The Hilliard Ensemble

Rating: 5/5

Another gem from the Hilliards

This is a truly beautiful disc. It consists of a Mass setting by Nicolas Gombert based upon his own motet Media vita in morte summus, interspersed with other motets and beginning with Media vita itself. Gombert was one of "the forgotten generation" of composers who came between the titanic figures of Josquin and Palestrina and who have been overshadowed by them virtually ever since. Well, not any more. The music presented here is rich, involving and incredibly lovely, and shows why much of Gombert's music has been revived and recorded in the last 20 years or so.

The Hilliard Ensemble - one of the world's finest vocal ensembles - do the music proud. Their apparently effortless skill, careful attention to detail and the relationship between text and music, and the sheer beauty of the sound they make produce a truly memorable disc. It's one that I return to again and again, and it moves and uplifts me every time. The Mass and motets are stunning and as a bonus they finish the disc with Musae Iovis, Gombert's fabulously lovely lament on the death of Josquin.

I don't really know how to convey the full greatness of this disc, but it really is one of my absolute favourites in a fairly extensive collection. At this price you've very little to lose and I recommend it in the warmest possible terms. It's a gem.

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