The Hilliard Ensemble

Pérotin and the Ars Antiqua

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U.K.-based Coro label has concentrated on a useful series of reissues of Harry Christophers' group the Sixteen, releases originally made for Collins Classics but stranded when that company shuttered its doors in 1999. With Pérotin and the Ars Antiqua, Coro turns its attention to a different project, Hilliard Live, a series of live recordings taken from the vaults of the Hilliard Ensemble made available before by the Hilliard itself, albeit on a limited basis. This particular recital, the first in the series, was presented in the chapel at Trinity College, Cambridge, at the conclusion of the Hilliard's annual summer singing school in 1996, and it is both well recorded and compiled. Applause is heard only at the start and at the end of the disc, and there is no audible coughing or other stray noises of significance in the recording; the singing is warm and close. The only other Hilliard Ensemble recording of Ars Antiqua literature was the Pérotin album for ECM in 1988, and this Coro issue shares only three pieces with its predecessor. Pérotin and the Ars Antiqua aren't wholly limited to the Paris-based Notre Dame School as they also incorporate some contemporary English polyphony and pieces from the south of France. For fans of the Hilliard or the Ars Antiqua, this disc should be self-recommending, but for those coming to the music of the Notre Dame School for the first time, this wouldn't be a bad choice, as it is well annotated with a useful essay by Mark Everist.

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