In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
Paul Hillier was born in Dorchester and sang in the local church choir. In his early teens he became a devotee of pop music, deeply immersing himself in the weekly pop charts and listening to Radio Luxembourg under the bedcovers. He discovered the early music of Elvis Presley, whose fan club he joined around the time of Return to Sender. He won a dance competition doing the twist. He discovered the local poet, Thomas Hardy. He joined a folksong trio, who performed here and there and included the Beach Boys in their repertoire, but at the same time he began to switch his main interests to classical music. He heard Tallis and Byrd, and read T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets. He went up to London to study singing and acting at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He discovered medieval music. Together with two fellow-students he formed a music-theatre ensemble called Travelling Music Theatre, performing both contemporary and early music. He formed the Hilliard Ensemble in 1973. He lived for a while in Windsor Castle before moving into a tiny flat in Islington. He discovered Steve Reich and minimalism. He taught at U.C. Santa Cruz for a year (1980-81), living by the ocean where he discovered John Cage and Zen Buddhism, but returned to Europe, where he discovered Arvo Part. He lived in Sussex, in Monks House, the former home of Leonard and Virginia Woolf. He moved to the USA in 1990, to teach at UC Davis and promote his new group, Theatre of Voices. In 1996 he became director of the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, Bloomington. His books on Arvo Part and Steve Reich were published by Oxford University Press. He returned to Europe at the turn of the century to earn his living as a conductor.
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A New Joy
Review: Drawing upon the rich treasury of 19th and 20th century liturgical hymns and carols of the nativity feast, this unique collection of Orthodox music from Russia and the Urkraine includes several first recordings of music by composers who were suppressed by the Soviet government. At the end of the 19th-century, Alexander Kastalsky founded the world-famous Moscow Synodal School of Church Singing. Bolshevik persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church forced the closing of the school and the disbanding of the choir. Georgiy Izvekov, a priest and well-respected composer of liturgical music, was arrested in 1931 for 'anti-Soviet activities' and was executed by firing squad. Important choral composers in the Ukraine met with similar fates - for example, Vasyl Barvinskyi was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment by the Soviet government. Paul Hillier leads the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir in this gloriously atmospheric collection of Christmas music, which begins with the tolling of the bells of St Alexander's cathedral in Tallinn, Estonia.
Songlist: Our Father, Rejoice, O Virgin, Verses Before The Six Psalms No.2, Shepards Of Bethlehem, Oh, What A Wonder , Today The Virgin Gives Birth , Verses Before The Six Psalms No. 1, The Angels Exclaimed, A New Joy, Bells Rang Early In Jerusalem, When Augustus Ruled Alone Upon The Earth , A Song Of Good Cheer, Throughout The World, The Legend, Christ Is Born, God Is With US , Blessed is The Man
Review: This collection of shorter sacred works by Arvo Part is the third harmonia mundi recording devoted to the music of the great contemporary Estonian composer. Da pacem includes some of his newest compositions as well as a sampling of works from earlier in his career. Led by Part's longtime collaborator and biographer Paul Hillier, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, along with organist Christopher Bowers-Broadbent, illuminate the very essence of Part's "holy minimalism," with its roots in early-Medieval polyphony and deep engagement with text. A survey of the work of three decades, Da pacem illustrates the development of Part's triadic, bell-like "tintinabulation" style as the composer explores new colors and texture. The disc features the lovely Magnificat (1989), with its call and response form and the Salve Regina (2001/2002), with its unexpected underlying waltz rhythm. Also included are Part's Dopo la vittoria (1996/1998), a "piccola cantata" commissioned to celebrate the 1,600th anniversary of the death of Saint Ambrose and the title track, Da pacem Domine (2004) - a prayer for peace rendered with an astonishing stillness, in which, says Hillier, "each pitch is carefully placed in position like stones in a Zen garden." Of special note is the world premiere recording of Part's Two Slavonic Psalms (1997) - the first a-cappella work the composer wrote using the "tintinnabuli" style.
Songlist: Da Pacem Domine, Salve Regina, Zwei Salwische Psalmen, Psalm 117, Psalm 131, Magnificat, An Den Wassern Zu Babel, Dopo La Vittoria, Nunc Dimittis, Little Tractus
Review: Acclaimed conductor Paul Hillier and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir conclude their exploration of the choral riches of the Baltic region with a third and final volume of the Baltic Voices series. The disc features music of established figures in the genre (Bergman, Gorecki, Gudmundsen-Holmgreen) and recent works by the younger generation (Saariaho, Tuur). Baltic Voices 3 includes CD premieres of works by Saariaho, Gorecki and Tuur. Hillier proves time and again that there's a huge quantity of highly effective new choral music out there that's not only entertaining and beautiful but also distinctive and not anachronistic. Highly recommended.
Songlist: The Stomping Bride, Statements, Nuits, adieux, The Dazzled Eye lost its Speech, Vier Galgenlieder Op. 51b, Alleluia, Meditatio, 5 Kurpian Songs
Review: Of all the north European composers who made their careers writing beautiful secular madrigals in sixteenth-century Italy, Josquin Desprez is regarded as the greatest. Fusing learned polyphony with rhythmic gaity, the madrigal was hugely popular in Italy and England. The brilliant British male octet The Hilliard Ensemble, sounding very much like angels, are one of few groups who can do justice to this difficult, soaring material. From the sacred "Ave Maria... Virgo serena," "Veni Sancti Spiritus," and "De profundis clamavi" to the secular "Petite camusette," "Je me complains" and "Je ne me puis tenir d'aimer," this is wonderful music. 13 songs. Extensive liner notes give lyrics and translations.
Songlist: Ave Maria ... Virgo serena, Absalon fili mi, Veni Sancte Spiritus, De profundis clamavi, Scaramella va alla guerra (a4), In te Domine speravi (a4), El grillo (a4), Mille regretz, Petite camusette, Je me complains, En l'ombre d'ung buissonet, Je ne me puis penir d'aimer, La deploration de Jhan Ockeghem (a5)
Review: Singing clubs of one kind or another played a small but key role in the history of English convivial music. Bustling 17th-century coffee house and taverns were venues for the singing of rounds and catches. Not particularly sophisticated, but many composers, Purcell the most prominent, created a series of miniatures whose wit and melodic invention have rarely been equaled. Acclaimed all-male septet The Hilliard Ensemble, directed by Paul Hillier, divides "The Singing Club" in two parts, beginning with "The Catch Club," Thomas Ravenscroft's "A Round of three country dances in one" and "There were three ravens," John Hilton's "Call George again, boys," William Lawes' "Drink tonight of the moonshine bright," "Dainty fine aniseed water fine" and "Gather your rosebuds while you may," John Wilson's "Where the bee sucks, there suck I," Purcell's "Tis woman makes us love" and "Sir Walter enjoying his damsel," Thomas Arne's title tune and others. The second part, "The Glee Club," features the upbeat "Foresters sound the cheerful horn" by Henry Bishop, Thomas Arne's "Sigh no more, ladies," John Smith's "The Anacreontick Song," Robert Pearsall's "There is a paradise on earth," and Joseph Bamby's "Sweet and low." 21 spirited, lilting, romantic a cappella songs that touch and cheer us on many levels-a beautiful, joyous CD!
Songlist: A Round of three country dances in one, There were three ravens, Call George again, boys, Drink tonight of the moonshine bright, She weepeth sore in the night , Dainty fine aniseed water fine, Where the bee sucks there suck I, Gather your rosebuds while you may, 'Tis woman makes us love, Sir Walter enjoying his damsel, Inigo Jones, Epitaph, The Singing Club, Foresters sound the cheerful horn, To soften care, The Anacreontick Song, Elegy on the death of Mr. Shenstone, Sigh no more ladies, There is a paradise on earth, O who will o'er the downs so free, Sweet and low
Review: William Billings (1746-1800), a Boston tanner and self-taught composer & singing master, was the foremost of a group of New England Psalmodists who flourished in the early years of American political independence. By the time his first tunebook, "The New England Psalm Singer," appeared in print in 1770, Billings had mastered both small and large-scale forms. The fine British a cappella choral group His Majestie's Clerkes does full justice to this wonderfully melodic, rich-harmonied Christian church music. Included are 16 songs: "O Praise the Lord of Heaven," "Is any afficted," "Emmaus," "Africa" (a personal favorite), funeral anthem: "Samuel the Priest," the joyful " Shiloh" (another favorite), "Jordan," the wonderful "I am the Rose of Sharon," "Euroclydon," "Hear my Pray'r," "Rutland," "David's lamentation," the sweet fugue "As the Hart panteth," "Creation," the powerful, dramatic "Brookfield," and the Easter Anthem: "The Lord is ris'n indeed" (the strongest song on the CD). This is incredible stuff, and looking for comparisons, what comes to mind are the choruses from Handel's "Messiah"--but we're hearing these songs for the first time, and we're being treated to the work of a little-known American genius. Highly recommended!
Songlist: O Praise the Lord of Heaven, Is any afflicted, Emmaus, Africa, Funeral Anthem: Samuel the Priest, Shiloh, Jordan, I am the Rose of Sharon, Euroclydon, Hear my Prayer, Rutland, David's lamentation, As the Hart panteth, Creation Brookfield, Easter Anthem: The Lord is ris'n indeed
Review: A fascinating survey of almost three centuries of communal singing, performed with sweetness, devotion and even a touch of earthy enthusiasm where required.
Songlist: Colchester, The Humble Suit of a Sinner, The Lamentation of a Sinner, The Humble Complaint of a Sinner, Brevity, Cambridge Short/Southwell, Watford, The beauty of Isr'el is slain, Thomas-Town, Chester, Chesterfield, Who is this that cometh from Edom?, Worcester, Amanda, Montgomery, Windham, Ode on Music, All Saints, Rainbow, Schenectady, Greenwich, Decay, Evening Hymn
Review: This CD is an assortment of Christmas songs from England and America from the fifteenth through the twentieth centuries. Many of the songs are American shape-note and Shaker hymns as well as Appalachian folk songs. Some of the more familiar tunes include the "Coventry Carol: Lully, lulla, thow little tyne child," "I wonder as I wander" by John Jacob Niles and Emily Poston's sweet version of "Jesus Christ the Apple Tree." These songs are all beautifully sung by the Pro Arte Singers with the University of Indiana Children's Chamber Choir, led by Paul Hillier. This is a wonderful recording of rarely heard gems.
Songlist: This Is Jesus' Birthday, Give good gifts to one another, Remember, O thou man, Ecce, quod natura, As I out rode this enderes night (Coventry Shepherds' Carol), Lully, lulla, thow littel tyne child (Coventry Carol), Nowell, nowell: Dieu vous garde, Swete was the song the Virgine soong, Arise, arise ye mortals all, Hail happy morn, I wonder as I wander, Jesus Christ the Apple Tree, The darkest midnight, To Bethlehem did they go, Shiloh, Joys Seven, I sing of a maiden, The Babe of Bethlehem, Hail the memorable morn, Sweetest music softly stealing, The Kentucky Wassail Song, To all the good children, a happy New Year
Review: In celebration of composer Arvo Part's 70th birthday on September 11th, Harmonia Mundi offers this special selection of recordings, conducted by his long-time collaborator and biographer Paul Hillier. Of special note is the first release of Hillier's reading of Dopo la vittoria. Previously released recordings are taken from Hillier's two highly acclaimed recordings of the music of Arvo Part. His first CD, De Profundis, has remained a bestseller since its debut in March 1997. I Am The True Vine, his second Part disc, illustrated Hillier's unique affinity for the deep spiritual mysteries of Part's music, and his ability to illuminate them in ways no other performer can match. The collaborative relationship between Hillier and Estonian composer Part dates back to the early 1980s, when as director of the Hilliard Ensemble, he was among the first to present Part's music to the West.
Songlist: Dopo La Vittoria, The Woman With The Alabaster Box, Berliner Messe, Kyrie, Gloria, First Alleluia Verse, Second Alleluia Verse, Veni Sancte Spiritus, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei , Solfeggio, Magnificat, Bogoroditese Djevo, I Am The True Wine, Which Was The Son Of...
Review: Marx and Lenin probably would not have appreciated the irony, but after decades of Communist repression of religion, the former Soviet bloc is the source of a profound outpouring of explicitly Christian expression. This is manifested in the music of such composers as Henryk Gorecki, a Pole, and Arvo Part, an Estonian. Part, a refugee from serialism, here writes in a quasi-minimalist style that he calls "tintinnabuli," a sound that echoes medieval composition. A fan of vocal music ("The human voice is the most perfect instrument of all"), he uses choruses to superb effect. This disc includes some of his best work, including the popular Magnificat, beautifully rendered by the Theatre of Voices under Paul Hillier.
Songlist: De Profundis, Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei , Ite Misse Est, Solfeggio, And One Of Those Pharisees, Cantate Domino, Summa, O Weisheit, O Adonai, O Spross, O Schlussel, O Morgenstern, O Konig, O Immanuel, The Beatitudes, Magnificat
Review: Contemporary troubador Paul Hillier has been one of the key players behind introducing Arvo Part's music to Western audiences, first through recordings with the Hilliard Ensemble and later through his magnificently innovative group Theatre of Voices. I Am the True Vine continues the collaboration by bringing together some truly vintage Part compositions from the '90s. Although it exists on disc in a more elaborate version for choir and strings, the 1990 Berlin Mass was originally written for just four solo voices and organ. Part later revised the score, returning to that original sonority, which is the version offered here. The consummate preparation of the Theatre of Voices, in which every line is lovingly unfurled, the whole building into a memorable aural sculpture, only heightens a listener's admiration for Part's ability to make the seemingly simple profound. We also hear the composer in a more overtly joyful mood than usual in the short first selection, while the title track--a setting of a text from the Gospel of John and one of three world premiere recordings here--is a marvelously organic example of word painting (representing Part's choral virtuosity even when it comes to setting English text).
Songlist: Bogoroditse dyevo (Hail Mary), I Am the True Vine, Kanon Pokajanen, The Woman with the Alabaster Box, Tribute to Caesar, Berliner Messe
Review: Paul Hillier leads the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir in a program tracing the Balto-Finnic folksong tradition through the works of Jean Sibelius, Cyrillus Kreek, Erik Bergman and Veljo Tormis. Hillier's previous forays into this repertoire (his three-volume Baltic Voices series) have been met with the highest critical acclaim. Hillier was also recently awarded a GRAMMY for his recording of David Lang's Little Match Girl Passion.
Songlist: Laulusild, Rakastava (The Lover), Sirisege, sirbikesed!, Maga, maga Matsikene, Mis sa sirised, sirtsukene?, Pilspa ja pakana, Lapponia, Jannilaulud
Review: The period from 1880 to 1917 marked a renaissance in Russian choral music. Previously, Russian choral music had been dominated by German and Italian influences. Now composers returned to old Russian chants as the source of their works, thus creating a thoroughly Russian choral style. Although Sergei Rachmaninov wrote only few choral works, they are among the finest example of Russian choral music ever written. Of those works, the All-Night Vigil (more commonly referred to as the Vespers) stands as his crowning achievement and is widely regarded as the pinnacle of the Orthodox church music as a whole. Composed in 1915, the All-Night Vigil is comprised of texts for services of Vespers, Matins and Prime. In writing the work, Rachmaninov employed a system known as "choral orchestration," which requires singers to make use of a wide range of complex vocal techniques. But for all the innovation and technical prowess evident in Rachmaninov's All-Night Vigil, it is the work's intense emotion and deep spirituality that stays with the listener.
Songlist: Come, let us worship, Praise the Lord, O my soul, Blessed is the man, O gentle light, Lord, now lettest Thou, Rejoice, O Virgin, The Six Psalms, Praise the name of the Lord, Blessed art Thou, O Lord, Having beheld the Ressurection, My soul magnifies the Lord, The Great Doxology, Today salvation is come, Thou didst rise from the tomb, O queen victorious
Review: On this fascinating recording, Paul Hillier leads the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the Orlando Consort in the world premiere recording of Scattered Rhymes - a vibrant and powerful new work by Tarik O'Regan (born 1978). O'Regan, a two-time British Composer Award winner, was educated at Oxford University and completed his postgraduate studies at Cambridge, where he was subsequently appointed Composer in Residence at Corpus Christi College. O'Regan now divides his time between Trinity College, Cambridge and New York City, where he has held the Fulbright Chester Schirmer Fellowship in Music Composition at Columbia University and a Radcliff e Institute Fellowship at Harvard. In Scattered Rhymes (2006), the composer combines two fourteenth-century texts that toy with the ambiguities of intertwining sensuous and divine love. To reinforce the work's medieval connections, Scattered Rhymes is designed to be framed or paired with Guillaume de Machaut's Messe de Notre Dame (circa 1364). This seminal work is brilliantly performed here by the Orlando Consort. Completing this inventive program are two motets: Ave Regina Coelorum by Guillaume Dufay (c. 1400-1474) and the haunting Super Flumina by Gavin Bryars (born 1943).
Songlist: Part 1, Part 2 , Part 3, Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Ite missa est, Ave Regina celorum, Super flumina, Douce dame jolie, Virelai: Douce dame jolie
Review: Creator Spiritus is the latest collaboration between GRAMMY Award winning conductor Paul Hillier and celebrated Estonian composer Arvo Part. The disc features a carefully selected collection of Part's choral and instrumental chamber music, drawn from different periods in the composer's career. Leading his celebrated vocal ensembles Theatre of Voices and Ars Nova Copenhagen and joined by the NYYD Quartet and long-time collaborator organist Christopher Bowers-Broadbent, Hillier produces another powerful recording of ethereal sacred music.
Songlist: Veni creator, The Deer's Cry, Psalom, Most Holy Mother of God, Solfeggio, My Heart's in the Highlands, Peace upon you, Jerusalem, Ein Wallfahrtslied, Morning Star, Stabat Mater
Review: With the 1968 Paris premiere of his Stimmung, Karlheinz Stockhausen (b. 1928) exploded the very definition of vocal performance. This musical tour de force, made up of an unbroken sequence of 51 sonic models - entirely built on the overtones of B-flat and presented in every possible voice combination - experiments with new compositional techniques and deconstructs the mechanics of speech and song. Paul Hillier, a champion of early and contemporary vocal repertoire, leads Theatre of Voices in his newly created "Copenhagen version" of a milestone of 20th-century music that today remains as relevant as ever. Hillier's life-long relationship with Stimmung began in the 1970s when he performed it as a member of Singcircle with the composer at the controls. The serene but highly charged aural landscape of the work has its roots in Stockhausen's assimilation of global musical currents as he traveled the world in the 1950s and 1960s - from mystic experiences in Mexico to Tibetan overtone singing. Surprisingly, this is one of Stockhausen's most accessible compositions: spiritual yet humorous, mystical yet worldly and erotic in its poetry. Following the performances Theatre of Voices gave in the UK, the Times of London called them "mesmerizing" and The Daily Telegraph described the event as "evoking a feeling of ritual and tranquility." This SACD-only release is a demonstration-quality recording that is certain to wow the most exacting of audiophiles.
Review: Inspired by the much-loved service of "Nine Lessons and Carols" given every Christmas Eve in England, this recording presents the Nativity story told through plainchant, motets, 17th Century dialogues, and traditional folk carols. Paul Hillier leads Theatre of Voices and Ars Nova Copenhagen in music he has culled and arranged from Italian, German, Danish, English, and American sources.
Songlist: Rorate coeli desuper, Veni veni Emanuel, Eis ist ein Ros entsprungen, Dum deambularet Dominus in Paradisum, Adam lay y-bounden, In dulci iubilo, Missus est Gabriel, Puer natus est, O magnum mysterium, Voi ch'ai notturni rai, Dormi, dormi, o bel bambin, Liebe Hirten, Andachtsjodler, We Three Kings, Videntes stellam, Personent hodie, Herodes iratus, Vox in Rama, Uebers Gebirg, Maria wallt zum Heiligtum, The holly and the ivy, Barn Jesus i en krybbe la, We wish you a merry Christmas
Review: Co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall especially for Paul Hillier and Theatre of Voices, David Lang's The Little Match Girl Passion was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Setting Hans Christian Andersen's fable in the format of Bach's St Matthew Passion, Lang elevates the suffering of the little match girl with poignant, evocative music. Lang's piece is scored for four voices and a few percussion instruments, played by the singers. They sing the sad story of a little girl who freezes to death selling matches on the street during a cold winter's night. In notes Lang wrote to accompany the Carnegie Hall premiere last October, he says he was drawn to Andersen's story because of how opposite aspects of the plot played off each other. "The girl's bitter present is locked together with the sweetness of her past memories," Lang says. "Her poverty is always suffused with her hopefulness. There's a kind of na•ve equilibrium between suffering and hope."
Songlist: Come, Daughter, It Was Terribly Cold, Dearest Heart, In an Old Apron, Penance, Patience!, Ah! Perhaps, Have Mercy, My God, She Lighted Another Match, From the Sixth Hour, She Again Rubbed a Match, When it is Time For Me to Go, In the Dawn of Morning, We Sit and Cry, For Love is Strong, I Lie, Evening Morning Day, Again (After Ecclesiastes)
Review: Arvo Part's contemporary sacred work, St. John Passion, is sung in Latin and recalls the purity and timelessness of the great musical passions of the seventeenth century. Recorded from Durham's magnificent medieval cathedral, the performance features the Hilliard Ensemble and the Western Wind Choir, conducted by Paul Hillier. The solo parts are sung by John Potter (Pilate), Michael George (Christ), Mary Seers, David James, Roger Covey-Crump and Gordon Jones (The Evangelist Quartet). A short introduction precedes the work.
Songlist: 1.Opening credits, 2.Introduction, 3.Passio Domini nostri, 4.Haec cum dixisset Jesus, 5.Quem quaeritis?, 6.Stabat autem et Judas, 7Quem quaeritis?7, 8.Ut impleretur sermo, 9.Mitte gladium tuum in vaginam, 10.Cohors ergo, et tribunus, 11.Erat autem Caiphas, 12.Dixit ergo Petro ancilla ostiaria, 13.Stabant autem servi, 14.Ego palam locutus sum mundo, 15.Haec autem cum dixisset, 16. Erat autem Simon Petrus stans, 17.Adducunt ergo Jesum a Caipha, 18.Quam accusationem affertis, 19. Introivit ergo iterum in praetorium Pilatus, 20.Regnum meum non est de hoc mundo, 21.Tu dicis quia Rex sum ego, 22.Et cum hoc dixisset, iterum exivit ad Judaeous, 23. Tunc ergo apprehendit Pilatus Jesum, 24.Exivit ergo iterum Pilatus foras, 25.Cum ergo vidissent eum Pontifices, 26.Cum ergo audisset Pilatus hunc sermonem, 27. Non haberes potestatem adversum me ullam, 28.Et exinde quaerebat Pilatus dimittere eum, 29.Erat autem parasceve Paschae, 30.Et baiulans sibi crucem exivit in eum, 31.Scripsit autem et titulum Pilatus, 32.Noli scribere, Rex Judaeorum, 33.Milites ergo cum cruxissent eum, 34.Stabant autem juxta crucem Jesu Mater ejus, 35.Postea sciens Jesus quia omnia consummata sunt, 36.Qui passus es pro nobis, 37.Credits
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