Krzysztof Penderecki

Krzysztof Penderecki
Krzysztof Penderecki (1933-2020) conducting his oratorio "Seven Gates of Jerusalem" at the Winter Palace, St Petersburg, in 2001. Photo by Dmitry Lovetsky

Monday, March 06, 2017

Nicolas Gombert: Motets, Vol. I – Beauty Farm (Download 44.1kHz/16bit)

Nicolas Gombert was a significant composer of the post-Josquin generation and a singer disgraced from the Emperor Charles V's court chapel when accused of molesting a choirboy. Sentenced to the galleys, he composed "swansongs" which won him the emperor's pardon. He is chiefly remembered for his 160-plus motets, 19 of which are handsomely represented on this double-album debut from the aptly named Beauty Farm, a new vocal ensemble specialising in Franco-Flemish Renaissance polyphony.

The group comprises one countertenor, three tenors and two basses, each hailing from one or more established European vocal ensembles. In these motets they tend towards a rich, low-pitched blended sound reminiscent of the Huelgas Ensemble's 1992 Gombert release (Sony, 4/1993). Vocal lines are clearly delineated but the overall texture remains smooth and calm. The combination of a rich, sonorous acoustic and a warm countertenor on the top line creates an immediately recognisable Low Countries blend.

As a composer, Gombert is a figure notable for pushing at the boundaries of the modal music system. His polyphony is suave yet harmonically challenging. The editions by Jorge Martín recorded here take a conservative approach to musica ficta, which allows Beauty Farm to avoid short-range gestures in preference for a rolling long-range polyphonic trajectory characteristic of the ars perfecta. In this respect Beauty Farm's interpretations evoke the spirit of the Hilliard Ensemble, offering a nod to their classic polyphonic style: never hurrying, never obviously cadencing. The results are indeed beautiful, if not slightly too-cool-for-school for my taste. Compare the opening of O beata Maria with Henry's Eight (1996), who worked with Australian musicologist John O'Donnell. Henry's Eight created a slow, sensual texture pierced by a throbbing false relation on "Maria". Beauty Farm, on the other hand, are notably quicker with a less stringent vocal tone, the Marian purple-patch subsumed into the larger phrase.

Despite lacking that frisson of mischief we have come to expect from Gombert, this is one of the most unrelentingly beautiful discs of his music to date. I welcome the focus on long-range polyphonic phrases allowing Gombert's smooth polyphonic lines to take centre stage. Beauty Farm have made a debut of note.

Source: Edward Breen (

Το φωνητικό σύνολο γαλλο-φλαμανδικής πολυφωνικής μουσικής, Beauty Farm, ερμηνεύει 19 μοτέτα για τέσσερεις, πέντε και έξι φωνές, από τα 160 και πλέον μοτέτα που συνέθεσε ο σπουδαίος Γαλλο-Φλαμανδός συνθέτης της Αναγέννησης, Νικολά Γκομπέρ.

Το φωνητικό σύνολο Beauty Farm, του οποίου το έργο επικεντρώνεται στη γαλλο-φλαμανδική πολυφωνική μουσική της Αναγέννησης, ιδρύθηκε το 2014 από τους Markus Muntean και Bernhard Trebuch. Το Beauty Farm έχει έδρα του το καρθουσιανό μοναστήρι του 1314, το οποίο λεηλατήθηκε και πυρπολήθηκε από οθωμανικά στρατεύματα κατά τη διάρκεια της Πολιορκίας της Βιένης το 1529 και ξαναχτίστηκε τον 17ο και τον 18ο αιώνα, στην αυστριακή πόλη Μαουερμπάχ.

Το άλμπουμ ηχογραφήθηκε στην εκκλησία του καρθουσιανού μοναστηριού στην πόλη Μαουερμπάχ, στην Αυστρία, μεταξύ 25 και 27 Οκτωβρίου 2014, και κυκλοφόρησε από την αυστριακή δισκογραφική εταιρεία Fra Bernardo το 2015.

[The original video was removed for "copyright reasons"]

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Nicolas Gombert (c.1495-1560)

♪ Motets, Vol. I

1. Veni dilecta mea a 5 [00:00]*
2. Tribulatio cordis mei a 5 [05:06]
3. Ave mater matris Dei a 5 [08:38]
4. Si bona suscepimus a 6 [12:31]
5. O, beata Maria a 5 [19:05]
6. Sancta Maria mater Dei a 4 [25:39]
7. Peccata mea sicut sagittae a 6 [28:27]
8. O, flos campi a 5 [35:32]
9. Sancta et immaculata a 5 [43:25]
10. Domine, non secundum peccata a 4 [50:19]
11. Ave salus mundi a 6 [58:50]
12. Salve regina "diversi diversa orant" a 4 [1:03:22]
13. Benedicta es a 6 [1:08:28]
14. O, crux, splendidior a 6 [1:17:38]
15. O, domina mundi a 4 [1:23:12]
16. Descendi in hortum meum a 6 [1:29:34]
17. O, Jesu Christe, succurre miseris a 6 [1:34:47]
18. Si ignoras te a 4 [1:40:42]
19. Emendemus in melius a 5 [1:47:29]

Beauty Farm:

Bart Uvyn, countertenor
Achim Schulz, tenor
Adriaan De Koster, tenor
Hannes Wagner, tenor
Martin Vögerl, baritone
Joachim Höchbauer, bass

Recording: Chartreuse at Mauerbach, Church, Austria, October 25-27, 2014

Fra Bernardo 2015 (Limited Edition)

Cover: Muntean & Rosenblum

(HD 1080p – Audio video)

* Start time of each work

Beauty Farm: Bart Uvyn (countertenor), Achim Schulz (tenor), Hannes Wagner (tenor),
Adriaan De Koster (tenor), Martin Vögerl (baritone), Joachim Höchbauer (bass)

Beauty Farm founded 2014 by Markus Muntean and Bernhard Trebuch is a vocal group focused to the Franco-Flemish polyphony of the renaissance. The international ensemble is based in the carthusian monastery at Mauerbach (Austria). The singers are members of well known ensembles. Beauty Farm exclusively records for frabernardo.

The German music theorist Hermann Finck wrote in 1556 that Nicolas Gombert had shown all musicians "the exact way to refinement". Finck claimed that Gombert had personally studied with the great Josquin Desprez, presumably in Josquin's final years at Condé-sur-l'Escaut; unfortunately, no independent confirmation of this master-pupil relationship exists, but Gombert's musical style of rich, pervasive imitation certainly builds upon the style of Josquin. His long service to the court chapel of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V allowed Gombert to travel widely and transmit this musical style across the bounds of Europe. With his contemporaries, Adrian Willaert and Jacob Clemens non Papa, Gombert brought the style of the musical Renaissance to fruition; even as late as 1610, no less a musician as Claudio Monteverdi selected a motet of Gombert upon which to base a mass setting in his bid to become Maestro di capella at Venice's San Marco.

Gombert was born somewhere in Southern Flanders; the village of La Gorgue has been suggested based upon the presence of other families named Gombert there. From roughly 1526 until around 1540, Nicolas served the court chapel of Emperor Charles V, travelling throughout Charles' vast realms in Flanders, Italy, Austria, Germany, and, of course, Spain. As of 1529, he fulfilled the position of maître des enfants in the Chapel. Charles, a fervent Catholic (and later one of the initiators of the Council of Trent), apparently encouraged the composition of masses and motets among his personal musicians, though Gombert also produced a large number of courtly French chansons. Gombert also honored his imperial patron with several commemorative motets celebrating events in Charles' life: the birth of a son, the coronation of his brother as King of Hungary, and an important international treaty. Gombert's service was partially remunerated by a series of ecclesiastical benefice incomes from churches at Courtrai, Béthune, Lens, and Metz.

Gombert's name abruptly vanishes from the imperial paylists in 1540; the mathematician Jerome Cardan records the reason as Gombert's sexual violation of one of the boys in his charge; he was sentenced to penal servitude in the galley of a warship. Apparently, he continued to compose, however, and is said to have written certain "swan songs" which helped avert the Emperor's ire, and earned his pardon. By 1547 – when he sent a letter and a motet to one of Charles' officers – he was residing in Tounai, where he eventually received a canonicate. He lived out his last years in peace at Tournai, dying some time between 1556 and 1561.

Timothy Dickey  (

See also

Nicolas Gombert: Motets, Vol. II – Beauty Farm (Download 44.1kHz/16bit)


Christmas with the Faces of Classical Music

Carlo Gesualdo: Sacrarum Cantionum Liber Primus a 5 voci – Oxford Camerata, Jeremy Summerly (Audio video)

Sacred Salterio: Lamentations of the Holy Week – Miriam Feuersinger, Il Dolce Conforto, Franziska Fleischanderl, Jonathan Pesek, Deniel Perer (Audio video)

Johannes Ockeghem: Missa L'homme armé, Missa quinti toni – Beauty Farm (Download 44.1kHz/16bit)

In the Midst of Life. Music from the Baldwin Partbooks I – Contrapunctus, Owen Rees (Audio video)

Antoine Busnoys: For the love of Jaqueline (Medieval love songs) – Sylvia Rhyne, Eric Redlinger (Audio video)

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