The name of the vocal ensemble Cinquecento refers to the 16th century in Italian, and true to the name, Cinquecento has focused on the music of that time. The group has pursued a special focus on the court vocal ensembles of the period.
Cinquecento was formed in 2004. It has been based in Vienna, but its five members -- Achim Schulz, Terry Wey, Tim Scott Whiteley, Tore Tom Denys, and Ulfried Staber -- all come from different countries (Austria, Belgium, England, Germany, and Switzerland). This is not a coincidence but reflects an ideal of the European courts of the time, which would seek to employ the best musicians they could, regardless of nationality. Cinquecento quickly gained recognition for its vocal talents and for its unique programming, which examined lesser-known works of the 16th century and focused closely on the music of individual courts. Cinquecento has performed all over Europe, as well as in North America and South Korea. The group built its repertory in the 2000s decade as artists-in-residence at the Church of St. Rochus and Sebastian in Vienna, performing a new polyphonic setting of the mass each week. Cinquecento's repertory has been mostly drawn from music between 1450 and 1610 but has lately expanded to include contemporary music after several composers expressed interest in writing for the group.
Cinquecento has been especially notable for its recordings. Just three years after its founding, the ensemble was signed to the Hyperion label and has remained on that roster, issuing about one album a year. These albums have won major awards including the Diapason d’Or, the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, and have earned several Gramophone award nominations. Many have contained performances of neglected music from the Hapsburg court and its many close relatives around Europe, for example, Philipp Schöndorff, a Flemish employee of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II. In 2019, Cinquecento issued a recording on Hyperion of Palestrina's Lamentations. ~ James Manheim