Philippe de Monte is almost unique in Renaissance music history. Born in 1521, he earned his trade in Italy and was associated with the chapel of Philip II of Spain. On the occasion of the latter's marriage to Mary Tudor, he visited England, where he exchanged his musical ideas with the celebrated William Byrd.
But it is for his 35-year tenure as Kapellmeister at the Austrian Hapsburg court for which de Monte has remained famous. His output is also of legendary proportions; 34 secular madrigal books with over 1000 pieces (the most by any composer), 38 masses, 250 motets and 144 sacred madrigals are the heart of his full artistic life.
Notwithstanding this vast array of pieces, his music is seldom performed and this disc gives one the opportunity to delve deep into the composer's sound world. The works are full of technical vitality and there is much to admire on all counts. Cinquecento are a sextet which hails from Vienna having been formed in 2004 and on this evidence, they are surely a name to watch out for.
Copyright © 2008 by Gerald Fenech