Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The Hilliard Ensemble - Codex Speciálník (rec. 1993, rel. 1995)

Been making an effort to be less self-consciously modernist in the classical stuff I listen to this past week, so in a break from the normal '20th century classical' tag, here's something from the 14th and earlier.  The title of this collection refers to the 'special songbook', a manuscript found in a Prague monastery and dated to around 1500, and a rich source of medieval-renaissance polyphonic vocal music.

Singing selections from the mostly anonymous songbook (only 8 of the 25 pieces here have composer credits) are the Hilliard Ensemble, who called time on their four-decade career just over two years ago, and appeared on over 20 ECM releases.  Celebrated specialists in early music, the Hilliards perform here with their customary expertise, authenticity and solemn, austere beauty.

This is a well-sequenced album too - not sure if it follows the order of the book, or was just done this way for the recording, but the 77-minute CD has all the shortest pieces up front, making the actual halfway-point of the album midway through track 17.  But this doesn't really matter much if you just let yourself get lost in the pure sound.

Veni vere illustrator

(I'm trying out Mega as Zippyshare seems to be acting up a bit - hope Mega links work ok for everyone.)
alt link (zippy) 


  1. Thanks Alan. I like the Hilliard ensemble's 'early' works such as Perotin and I like early medieval music, so this could be a real treat for me. I don't know this record nor the songbook in question. Excellent!

  2. Looking forward to hearing this. Thank you!

  3. Many thanks for this! Ricardo