Huelgas Ensemble / Paul van Nevel THE EAR OF THE HUGUENOTS
The Huelgas Ensemble under Paul Van Nevel are numbered among the world’s best vocal ensembles for over 40 years. Their recordings of, in many cases, completely unknown works has earned the ensemble the highest international acclaim. The press wrote of their last recording: “The Huelgas Ensemble once again demonstrates its artistic skill and expressive power” (SWR 2). For their new album, Paul Van Nevel has selected outstanding works by Huguenot composers of the 16th century, a period when Protestants were ruthlessly persecuted in pre-revolutionary France. The tragic height of this persecution was the Saint Bartholomew’s Day massacre on the night of 23–24 August 1572, when the lives of thousands of Huguenots were taken. Despite the religious repression and persecution, a Protestant culture filled with musical riches was able to develop in France. This included psalm settings by various composers that are well worth being discovered and cover an impressive range of styles from homophonic to polyphonic motets encompassing many voice parts. For this album the Huelgas Ensemble has recorded the most interesting works of composers such as Claude Goudimel (1510–1572), Jaques Maudit (1557–1627), Giovanni da Palestrina (1525–1594), Pascal de l’Estocart (1539–1584) as well as Jean Servin (1530–1596) and Claude Le Jeune (1528–1600). The recording is an impressive demonstration of the outstanding tonal artistry of these composers and provides a glimpse of a compelling epoch in music history.