Old Music Tuesday: Ensemble Cinquincento

If any of you are into early music, and you have sirius radio, there is a wonderful program called The Millennium of Music, on Symphony Hall, channel 76, at 11am eastern/8am pacific on Sunday mornings.  I generally catch it in snippets when I’m on my way to walk Hannah at the lake.  The host, Robert Aubry Davis, has a wonderful voice and a passion for early choral music (he started a channel on XM called Vox, which was cancelled when Sirius bought XM – their loss).  I always learn something new on his program, or discover a new composer to start a love affair with.

Recently a program was on the Ensemble Cinquencento, and their new album, Amorosi Pensieri.  They are a German group who have focused largely on sacred music of the Renaissance, but with this new album, they are turning towards more secular music from the Hapsburg Court.
The Hapsburg Monarchy ruled the area around what we would think of as Germany or Austria from the end of the 13th century until WWI ended, which is an amazing lineage.  But their heyday was in the Renaissance, when they were often elected to be the Holy Roman Empires, and they had a vibrant court in Vienna and Prague, and they were everywhere; taking turns ruling Spain, the Low Countries, you name it.  They were the major force of the Renaissance, and they had a court that matched their vibrancy, supporting dozens of composers and artists.

If you’re interested in this kind of music, Hyperion, a label out of the UK, has an amazing selection, which is now available via download.  This particular album is here: http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/find.asp?f=Amorosi+Pensieri&vw=dc

Or, you can get a taste of the music with this complete album of Philippus de Monte, a famous sacred and secular composer who was a shining star of the Hapsburg empire.  I’ll definitely be adding these albums to my playlists.

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