Sacred Songs of the Renaissance combines the virtuosity of one of the top choirs in the world with the musical sensibilities of producer Ellen Holmes. All of the pieces are Renaissance settings of religious texts recorded by the Huelgas Ensemble. From their catalogue, Ellen selected and sequenced these pieces to draw the listener ever more deeply into a contemplative religious experience.
The Huelgas Ensemble was founded by Paul Van Nevel in 1971. The Belgian group is noted for recording unknown works and for their "burnished" sound. They have made more than 50 recordings for Sony Music and France’s Harmonia Mundi and have earned many significant awards. This CD focuses on Renaissance polyphonic music--i.e. multiple simultaneous harmonies as distinct from Medieval monophonic "Gregorian" chant. The album features the only recording of “Gaude Virgo Mater Christi à 6”, an English sacred piece from the Eton Choirbook (a collection of some of the earliest polyphonic music), as well as “Spem in alium: Forty-part motet” and “Ecce beatam lucem: Forty-part non-liturgical motet”, two of the most complex polyphonic works in the Western repertoire.