Country : Canada (Quebec) Label : ATMA Classique Genres and styles : Choral Music / Renaissance music Year : 2024

Ensemble ArtChoral – Art Choral vol. 1: Renaissance

· by Michel Labrecque

The human voice is capable of wonders when it sings in harmony with others, in popular and classical music, for a long time. 

To demonstrate this, the Quebec ensemble ArtChoral has embarked on a daring and slightly crazy project: to produce 15 albums which summarize six centuries of choral creation, from the Renaissance to the present day. In addition, eleven webcast concerts and 150 videos will be added. 

Art Choral Vol. 1 is dedicated to the Renaissance, this historical period which bridges the Middle Ages and the Classical period. In the 16th century, a multitude of European composers took polyphonic arrangements to new heights. With counterpoint, suspension, rhythmic changes and other processes, choral art became more complex. 

On this album, we could describe this version of the Ensemble ArtChoral as a “chamber choir”. There are twelve singers, conducted by Matthias Maute. This particular aspect provides an intimate touch and sound to this high-flying vocal performance. 

To explore this 16th century, we move from the Italian Giovanni Da Palestrina to the British William Byrd, to the Spanish Tomas Luis de Victoria, to the French Clément Jannequin, among others. 

Most of these pieces are religious, but there are also some more secular creations, such as Clément Jannequin’s “La Bataille de Marignan” (1528), a remarkable song which highlights the victory of the French army against the Duchy of Milan. This singular piece could inspire Steve Reich or modern composers today, in my humble non-specialist opinion. 

Furthermore, creations of more religious obedience immerse us in a cosmological spiritual universe. There are arrangements for four voices, but also for six, seven, even twelve voices. Our ears are satisfied and ask for more to discern better. 

This Vol. 1 is added to Vol. 3, 4, 5 and 7 already published. The ArtChoral Ensemble does not operate in chronological order. Which accentuates our astonishment. 

This complex vocal adventure is absolutely worth following…and listening.

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