"Missa Unitatis is a splendid work, superbly written for voices. It will appeal to any choral music lover looking for something a little out of the ordinary."Music Web, 10-4-2019
This program around the Missa Unitatis represents a meeting of many different musical travellers. Shortly after making its home in the southern Dutch city of ’s-Hertogenbosch in 2006, Cappella Pratensis renewed its acquaintance with an organisation that has been travelling through some 700 years of history, the Confraternity of the Illustrious Lady. To celebrate the Year of Religious Heritage in 2008, the Confraternity commissioned a work by the British composer Antony Pitts. The commemoration, in 2016, of 500 years since the death of Hieronymus Bosch was the ideal opportunity to première the version of the Missa Unitatis for double chorus. The Nederlands Kamerkoor graciously accepted the invitation to join forces with Cappella Pratensis, and the celebrated British musician Stephen Layton brought his wealth of choral experience as conductor.
Dieses Programm rund um die Missa unitatis repräsentiert ein Zusammentreffen vieler verschiedener musikalischer Reisender. Kurz nachdem sich Capella Pratensis 2006 in der südniederländischen Stadt ’s-Hertogenbosch niedergelassen hatte, hat das Ensemble seine Bekanntschaft mit der Bruderschaft Unserer lieben Frau vertieft, die durch gut 700 Jahre Geschichte reist. Um 2008 das Jahr des religiösen Erbes zu feiern, gab die Bruderschaft bei dem britischen Komponisten Antony Pitts ein Werk in Auftrag. Die Feierlichkeiten anlässlich des 500. Todestages Hieronymus Boschs 2016 bot die ideale Gelegenheit, die doppelchörige Fassung der Missa unitatis uraufzuführen. Der Nederlands Kamerkoor nahm die Einladung, sich mit der Capella Pratensis zusammenzutun, dankend an, und der gefeierte britische Musiker Stephen Layton trug seine reiche Chorerfahrung als Dirigent bei.
Cappella Pratensis specializes in the music of Josquin Desprez (= Josqinus Pratensis) and other polyphonic composers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The ensemble performs its own programs and original interpretations, which are based on academic research. As was customary in the renaissance, the singers of Cappella Pratensis usually stand around a central music stand, singing from facsimiles of original choirbooks. This creates a unique perspective on the repertoire. The ensemble, founded in 1987, is now under the artistic direction of singer and conductor Stratton Bull.
In addition to regular concerts in the Netherlands and Belgium, Cappella Pratensis performs in leading international festivals and venues in France, Portugal, Germany and the United States. The ensemble also has also released several CD recordings which have been greeted with rave press reviews and awards, including the Diapason d’Or and the Prix Choc. From 2005 to 2007, Cappella Pratensis was ensemble-in-residence at the Fondation Royaumont (France), where it gave courses and concerts, and worked with several prominent musicians. In 2009, it released a DVD/CD production of the Missa de Sancto Donatiano by Jacob Obrecht, which contained a reconstruction of the first performance of this mass, filmed on location in Bruges, supplemented with extensive documentation. This production was awarded with a Diapason découverte and the highest rating in the professional magazine Classica.
The CD Vivat Leo! Music for a Medici Pope (2010), directed by guest conductor Joshua Rifkin, was awarded a Diapason d’Or. A successful series of concerts of the Requiem of Pierre de la Rue was led by guest conductor Bo Holten. A DVD of one of these concerts, performed as part of the event Jheronimus Bosch 500, was released in 2010 under the title Bosch Requiem.
In January 2012 a new CD, containing the earliest surviving polyphonic requiem masses in music history, those by Johannes Ockeghem and Pierre de la Rue. In February 2014 the ensemble released a CD containing music written for the feast of the Assumption and transmitted in choirbooks from the Vatican, including Josquin Desprez’s masterpiece Missa Ave maris stella. In late 2015, the ensemble recorded the Missa Cum Jocunditate by Pierre de la Rue.
In 2016, Cappella and the Nederlands Kamerkoor performed eight concerts of the world premiere of the Missa Unitatis, composed in 2008 by Anthony Pitts (* 1969) in a unique partnership with choirs in Antwerp, Breda, ’s-Hertogenbosch, Eindhoven, Tilburg and Helmond. It has also performed during the Early Music Festival in Utrecht, and presented five performances of the program Christmas with Josquin in the Season of Early Music.
Cappella Pratensis shares its vision and approach to vocal polyphony with professionals and amateurs in masterclasses, with multimedia presentations, and also in a week-long summer school that takes place annually during the festival Laus Polyphoniae in Antwerp. In a structural collaboration with the universities of Leuven and Oxford, the musical manuscripts of the workshop of Petrus Alamire are explored by musicologists and adapted for use by other musicians.
The Netherlands Chamber Choir exists since 1937, and has been one of the world’s top choirs for decades. The Netherlands Chamber Choir has been internationally praised by critics for its homogeneous sound and for the soloist quality of the singers. One of the choir’s missions is to keep choral music very much alive as an art form, by looking for new formats, by innovative commissions and exciting collaborations. It results in concerts that are not only perceived as beautiful, but that appeal to all senses.
Education and participation are a vital part of the choir’s mission. The Netherlands Chamber Choir provides coaching, workshops, and ‘adopts’ choirs as supporting act for their own concerts.
Besides their own concert series, the choir often collaborates with renowned ensembles such as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, ASKO|Schönberg, La Fenice and Concert Lorrain.
From August 1, 2015 Peter Dijkstra watches over the unique sound of the Netherlands Chamber Choir The Netherlands Chamber Choir had Felix de Nobel as its first chief conductor. Uwe Gronostay, Tõnu Kaljuste, Stephen Layton and Risto Joost were his respective successors. Each of them gave the Netherlands Chamber Choir, and choral music in general, new, major impulses.
Giuseppe Verdi is viewed as one of the most important, and most popular, opera composers of Italy. Few composers knew how to balance artistic ideals and commericial interersts like him. He was a composer of 'hits', like his "La donna è mobile" from his opera Rigoletto and his "Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves" from his opera Nabucco, and he was careful not to have his audience feel bored at any moment. Especially his early works are characterised by strongly propelling, rhytmic power. A common example is his Il Trovatore. Yet, Verdi was also a composer with ideals. If he would get intrigued by a character, it became his mission to portray to persona as best as he could in the music. This sometimes meant he was forced to alter or neglect traditional opera forms, like he did in Rigoletto. He was not afraid to touch on socially sensitive matters, which at times led to issues with the establishment. For instance, his opera La traviata turned out to be a controversial one, due to its courtesan heroine. Verdi never engaged in the intellectual discussions on music of his time. He pretended to be a simple man who felt most at home in the countryside. Nonetheless, with the masterful fugal ending of his last opera Falstaff he undoubtedly showed his intellectual level of composing.
Jacobus Clemens non Papa was a Renaissance composer from the Franco-Flemish school. The story goes he gave the nickname "non papa" to himself, so people could differentiate him from the Ypres poet Clemens Papa (Clément de Paepe). The pope, too, (which in Latin is called 'papa') was named Clemens at that time. However, considering that Pope Clement VII died in 1534, before any of Clemens's music was published, and that the confusion with the poet is unlikely in that the surnames were quite distinct, it is likely that the nickname was merely created in jest rather than for practical reasons. Nonetheless, the suffix has remained throughout the ages.
Little is known of his life. He came from one of the seventeen provinces of the current Belgium or the Netherlands (perhaps Zeeland). His first compositions was published in 1536. In 1544 he stayed in Brughes for a year, after which he started a business relationship with the publisher Tielman Susato from Antwerp, who woud publish most of his works until his death. Between 1545 and 1549 he probably was choirmaster to Philippe de Croy, Duke of Aerschot, one of Charles V's greatest generals, where he preceded Nicolas Gombert. According to Antonius Sanderus he was buried at Diksmuide near Ypres in present-day Belgium.
Unlike his contemporaries, Clemens never went to Italy. His style has remained "northern" without Italian influences. He composed a large number of works, among which 15 masses, more than 200 motets and 4 books with in total 159 psalms in Dutch (Souterliedekens). These were published by Tielman Susato in Antwerp.
Missa Unitatis is a splendid work, superbly written for voices. It will appeal to any choral music lover looking for something a little out of the ordinary.
Music Web, 10-4-2019
Lovers of choral music will certainly love this CD.
Kerk & Leven, 30-7-2018
The combined forces of the Cappella Pratensis and Nederlands Kamerkoor impart plenty of zip and energy to these performances, to which should also be added impressive contributions by the Netherlands Female
Youth Choir in music by Poulenc, Verdi and Eriks Esenvalds.
Lovers of choral music will certainly love this CD.
Kerk & Leven, 03-4-2018
To the full success in the election and sequencing of the program is added the superb performances of all the choirs. The Missa Unitatis stands out because of its size: it is a marvelous work full of enchantment, soul, depth and color. The Cappella Pratensis and the Netherlands Kamerkoor astonish equally with their virtuosity and musicality in abundance, in a throbbing performance that elevates the listener from beginning to end. An anthological album, without a doubt.
Music to crawl into, if you just want to stop the daily fuss.
Impressive new choral music by Antony Pitts.
An album that shows in an impressively beautiful way that choral music is current and of all times.
VPRO Vrije Geluiden, 23-11-2017
Tom Klaassen explores the limits of classical music every Saturday and Sunday between 11 pm and midnight. With new releases, concert tips, reports, current developments in the music world, a permanent place for young talent, and of course: breathtaking music! Tonight include the new CD by Cappella Pratensis and Nederlands Kamerkoor with the Missa Unitatis by the British composer Antony Pitts.
VPRO Vrije Geluiden, 05-11-2017