Behold, how joyful!


Signum Records are pleased to present a debut recording by the Brabant Ensemble, an Oxford-based ensemble with a strong reputation for sympathetic performance of early sacred music, focussing on the repertoire of the 16th century.

Like many of even the most prolific and celebrated composers of the sixteenth century, Jacobus Clemens non Papa (‘not the Pope’) has offered the history books little factual material with which to work. In contrast to the paucity of biographical material, however, many sources of Clemens’ music survive. Indeed, he is one of the most widely published musicians of the entire century with fifteen Masses, over two hundred motets, many Dutch psalms and French chansons to his name.

This disc features the Mass Ecce quam bonum, which is based on Clemen’s own motet setting of Psalm 133, ‘Behold, how good and joyful a thing it is: brethren, to dwell together in unity!’

Apart from that on which the Mass setting is modelled, all of the motets on this disc are in five parts, although their textures are varied. Pascha nostrum sets the text of the Easter Anthem. The Song of Song’s motet Veni electa mea is highly characteristic of mid-sixteenth century spirituality, with the eroticism of the Song of Songs harnessed to provide a metaphor for the Church as bride of Christ. Accesserunt ad Jesum introduces Jesus’s admonition to the Pharisees concerning the estate of marriage. In Job tonso capite, a highly emotive narration of Job accepting his many trials, Clemen’s delivers an immediate approach to word-painting.

The final piece on this disc, Carole, Magnus eras is a secular work: a state motet addressed to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and his son, Philip II of Spain. Since the text celebrates the achievements of the Emperor but promises even greater things under his son, it was probably composed at the time of Philip’s investiture as Regent of the Low Countries in 1549.


What people are saying

‘an outstanding recording’

International Record Review

  ‘the bell-like soprano sound is particularly attractive’

Daily Telegraph

    ‘irresistible…it will change your life’

Early Music Review

The Brabant Ensemble
directed by Stephen Rice

Release date:1st Sep 2004
Order code:SIGCD045
Barcode: 635212004524

International Record Review October 2004

The Brabant Ensemble is characterized by immaculate intonation and lapidary vocal brilliance. Its sopranos have that ringing, boy-like clarity which seems to have gone out of favour lately with some English vocal ensembles. To single out but one highlight, the quiest, searing intensity they bring to the masterly Job tonso capite is achieved without recourse either to false madrigalism or anachronistic emotionalism. This is an outstanding recording and, for me, clearly the disc of the month.

Andrew O?Connor

The Daily Telegraph 9 October 2004

Clemens’s beautifully crafted and mellifluous polyphony, nicely spiced with tellingly placed chromaticisms, is immediately appealing. The Brabant Ensemble generally does it full justice, with its clear, steady tone: the bell-like soprano sound is particularly attractive. The group also gives the music a natural sense of flow, especially in slow and expressive items such as the desolate motet Job tonso capite…a most promising debut CD, suggesting the the Brabant Ensemble could have a bright future – especially if, in its enterprising choice of repertoire, it is starting as it means to go on.

Elizabeth Roche

Early Music Review October 2004

They make a glorious sound which may be very English, for want of a better word, but which I found irresistible – Clemens’s mellifluous lines rise and fall beautifully, no one part taking precedence over the others, and all with an ethereal feeling…if you are unfamiliar with this repertoire, do buy this; it will change your life. Those of you who are, don’t miss this wonderful debut recording.

Brian Clark

BBC Music Magazine November 2004
Performance **** Sound ****

The individual movements of the Mass are nicely contrasted with, for example, robust duetting in the ‘Et resurrexit’, and a touchingly reflective Agnus Dei. The motets, too, have moments to cherish (‘Accesserunt’ brings out the best in the singers)’.

Anthony Pryer

Musicweb October 2004

The Brabant Ensemble has a lovely clear sound…they display fine musicianship with a good feel for the music of the period. All their performances on the disc are of a high quality and the singers have a good feel for the shape and line of the music.

Robert Hugill

  1. Ecce quam bonum – Ecce quam bonum – 3.32
  2. – Quod decendit – 3.02
  3. Missa Ecce quam bonum – Kyrie – Kyrie eleison – 1.18
  4. – Christe eleison – 1.03
  5. – Kyrie eleison – 1.25
  6. Missa Ecce quam bonum – Gloria – Gloria in excelsis – 2.25
  7. – Qui tollis – 2.42
  8. Accesserunt ad Jesum – Accesserunt ad Jesum – 2.33
  9. – Non legistis – 1.47
  10. – Propter hoc – 3.14
  11. Missa Ecce quam bonum – Credo – Credo in unum Deum – 3.55
  12. – Et resurrexit – 0.58
  13. – Et iterum – 3.07
  14. Job tonso capite – Job tonso capite – 4.30
  15. – Dominus dedit – 3.55
  16. Missa Ecce quam bonum – Sanctus – Sanctus – 1.41
  17. – Osanna – 1.03
  18. – Benedictus – 1.35
  19. – Osanna – 1.05
  20. Veni electa mea – Veni electa mea – 2.56
  21. – Audi filia et vide – 2.51
  22. Missa Ecce quam bonum – Agnus Dei – Agnus Dei I – 3.02
  23. – Agnus Dei II – 3.18
  24. Pascha nostrum – Pascha nostrum – 3.34
  25. – Haec est dies – 2.54
  26. Carole, magnus eras – Carole, magnus eras – 3.14
  27. – Nunc omnes – 3.04