The Hilliard Ensemble in
Thy Kiss of a DIVINE Nature | The Contemporary Perotin
Arthaus Musik 100 695


A film by Ulrich Aumüller, inpetto filmproduktion

lenguage version: German
subtitle languages: GB, F, SP, JP
sound format: PCM Stero, DD 5.1, DTS 5.1
picture format: 16:9
running time: 95 minutes

THE FILM “THY KISS OF A DIVINE NATURE” tells the extraordinary love story beteween heaven and earth. It also tells the story of the medieval composer, Perotinus Magnus, of the invention of polyphony and a new concept of time.


1. Perotinus' innovation
2. A letter to Martin Burckhardt
3. Leonin rehearsal
4. Rieman musical encyclopaedia
5. Cloister I
6. Music: Beata viscera (conductus)
7. Paris in the Middle Ages
8. Cloister II
9. Symposion I: Martin Burckhardt
10. Music: Laude jocunda (prosa)
11. The question of interpretation I
12. Cloister III
13. The question of interpretation II
14. Symposion II: Christian Kaden, sociologist of music
15. The question of interpretation III
16. Theatre rehearsal I: the black and the white Mary
17. Music: Descendit de celis I (organum)
18. The word becomes flesh (walk in the woods)
19. Music: Descendit de celis II (organum)
20. Theatre rehearsal II: the ear conception
21. Theatre rehearsal III: when God is no God...
22. Excursus: Perotin and the invention of money
23. Theatre rehearsal IV: tableau vivant
24. Symposion III: Jürg Stenzl, historian of music
25. Music: Alleluia nativitas (organum)
26. Symposion IV: dispute
27. Theatre rehearsal V: Mary as a letter
28. Music: Viderunt omnes (quadruplum)
29. Theatre rehearsal VI: flawless projection screens
30. Theatre rehearsal VII: the power of imagination
31. The betrayal of nature
32. Music: Dum sigillum (conductus)
33. Music: Benedicamus domini (organum)
34. Credits
Bonus DVD
The Perotin Symposion

Who was Perotinus Magnus - Myth or History ?
1. Perotinus innovation, Jürg Stenzl, Historian of Music
2. Wealth of euphony - Christian Kaden, Sociologist of Music
3. The question after the question - Martin Burckhardt, Historian of Culture
4. Two concepts of time - Rudolf Flotzinger, Historian of Music
5. The astronaut Perotin - Martin Burckhardt, Historian of Culture
6. Is Aristotle the wrong provider of keywords (dispute I)?
7. The delivrery of the individual (dispute II)
8. The end

Perotinus Magnus - The Vision of a Film Project
1. The beginning of the film
2. Music: Beata es virgo (offertorium)
3. The mother-of-God machine
4. The idea of a loudspeaker
5. Singing like Dervishes
6. Perotinus, the revolutionary
7. History of interpretation
8. Workshop atmosphere
9. Composing with Lego
10. The dawning of a new age
11. Music: Laude iocunda
12. Light finger
13. The immaculate conception
14. Music: Dum sigillum (conductus)
15. The beam of light
16. The cathedral of light
17. Body in body
18. Dances of Mary
19. God abdicates
20. Music: Viderunt omnes
21. From the idea to the realisation

Bonus CD

1. Beata es virgo      [1:57]
Offertorium/Graduale, 11th century

Descendit de celis      [15:44]
3-part organum — Anonymous/Nôtre-Dame de Paris, after 1200
(according to the Florentine writings, 14r)

2. Descendit de celis      [2:25]
3. missus ab arce patris      [1:21]
4. Tanquam sponsus dominus      [4:31]
5. Et exivit per auream      [0:33]
6. Fac deus munda corpora      [0:28]
7. Gloria patri et filio      [2:01]
8. Et exivit per auream      [0:34]
9. Familiam custodi      [0:29]
10. Descendit de celis      [0:59]
11. missus ab arce patris      [1:22]
12. Facinora nostra relaxari      [1:00]

13. Dixit angelus      [1:47]
1-part Responsorium, 11th century

Gaude Maria      [9:18]
2-part Responsorium — Anonymous/Nôtre-Dame de Paris around 1190
(according to the writings of Wolfenbüttel II, 48v)

14. Gaude Maria      [0:45]
15. virgo cunctas hereses      [1:19]
16. Gabrielem archangelum      [3:44]
17. Dum virgo deum      [0:40]
18. Gloria patri et filio      [1:25]
19. Gaude Maria virgo cunctas      [1:25]

20. Laude jocunda      [2:41]
2-part prose — Anonymous/St Martial de Limoges around 1150

Descendit de celis & Tamquam sponsus      [4:45]
2-part organum — LEONIN/Nôtre-Dame de Paris around 1180
(according to the writings of Wolfenbüttel I, around 1240)

21. Descendit de celis      [1:27]
22. Tamquam sponsus      [3:18]

Alleluia Nativitas      [7:06]
3-part organum — PEROTIN/Paris after 1204
(from the writings of Wolfenbüttel II, around 1260)

23. Alleluia      [1:30]
24. Alleluia      [0:28]
25. nativitas gloriose      [4:09]
26. clara ex stirpe David      [0:59]

Beata viscera      [9:29]
1-part conductus — Anonymous (PEROTIN?)/Paris after 1200
(according to the Florentine writings, around 1250)

27. Beata viscera      [1:48]
28. Populus gentium      [1:50]
29. Fermenti pessimi      [1:52]
30. Legis mosaicae      [1:51]
31. Solem quem libere      [2:08]

Viderunt omnes      [10:29]
4-part organum (Graduale of the 3rd Christmas Mass) — PEROTIN/Paris soon after 1200
(Magnus Liber, Florentine writings)

32. Viderunt omnes      [3:30]
33. finis terrae salutare      [0:52]
34. Notum fecit Dominus      [5:41]
35. justitiam suam      [0:27]

36. Dum sigillum      [7:29]
2-part conductus — PEROTIN/Paris after 1200
(Unicum from the Florentine writings)

37. Benedicamus domino      [2:36]
2-part organum — Anonymous/Nôtre-Dame de Paris, after 1200
(according to the writings of Wolfenbüttel II, around 1260)

The Hilliard Ensemble
David James — countertenor
Rogers Covey-Crump — tenor
Steven Harrold — tenor
Gordon Jones — baritone

Participants involved in the preparation and research for this film were
An den Recherchen und Vorarbeiten für diesen Film haben u.a. mitgewirkt

Martin Burckhardt, Claudia Burkhardt, Gösta Courkamp, Ulrich Engel, Rudolf Flotzinger, Stefan Gagstetter,
David Hofmann, Christian Kaden, Ellen Hünigen, Hanne Kaisik, Dorothea Kraus, Alina Kunkel,
Katharina Ortmann, Robert Paschmann, Jürg Stenzl, Romy Weinhold, Hannah Nischwitz.

Thank you very much!   Ihnen allen herzlichen Dank!


A digital images DVD Production

Producer — Torsten Bönnhoff
Product manager — Mario Katscher
Project manager — Nico Heinrich

Supervisor Post Production — Rinaldo Seeger
Video Editing — Mathias Eimann

Audio — Thomas Vollmer
Video — Andreas Hirsing, Thomas Weyh

Menu Design — Felicitas Fröb
Authoring — Jürgen Weidig Marek Schuboth Christine Malerz
Test & Check — George Szathmári, Maria Teubner

Subtitles — Michael Statz, Sandra Behrendt, Steven J. White, Raoul Weiss, Rob Hyde
comtext Leipzig

Booklet Text — Marcus Heinicke
Artwork — Thekla Trillitzsch

Translations — A.A.C. Berlin

by digital images GmbH

Perotin and the history of music are linked by an important chapter, even though future generations had little to say about this French composer of medieval vocal music. According to 13th century manuscripts, the composer lived from 1165 to 1220, or from around 1155/60 to 1200/05. For the presentation of his music, however, it is not of importance whether this man Perotin was also called Perotinus Magnus, or Magister Perotinus, or in which year he was born, or when he died. After all, the name of Perotin is really only a diminutive form of Petrus, and could have been used by many individuals at that time. The name Perotin does not therefore identify a tangible historical person, and the mere facts are more or less shrouded in the obscurity of the Middle Ages. What is crucial, however, is the conception of polyphonic music, which, 800 years ago, was tantamount to a revolution. As master at the cathedral of Nôtre-Dame in Paris and probable successor of the composer Leonin, Perotin played a significant part in this revolutionary development. The organum of the Early Middle Ages, a method of playing and composing where quint and octave voices were added strictly parallel to the main voice, was fundamentally transformed. Perotin created a notation for Gregorian chants with several voices. He used a modal notation, which fixed the rhythm of two, three or four voices and subordinated them to a temporal metre. This rhythm of individual modi, used for the first time for chants with two voices by Leonin, was organised more tightly. Perotin subjected the original voice of the organum to strict rhythmic formulae, with the choral melody having not just one, but two or three upper voices slotted in like modules. Therein lies his special skill of varying repetitions and themed combinations of upper voices. Like clockwork, the voices weave rhythmically together and apart, and merge again in the end to find a common metre. This new order of musical structure characterises polyphonic musical language to this day, and it is also the underlying idea of the film about the composer Perotin, who himself is lost in obscurity, but whose music is a fascinating experience in sound to this day.

Perotin and the film by Uli Anmüller achieves an audiovisual symbiosis, which asks about the origins and the basis of medieval music, philosophy, architecture and religiousness. The film thus creates a musical painting with medieval chants by the Hilliard Ensemble, accompanied by a scientific dispute, and choreography by Johann Kresnilc. The chant, the dispute and the dance run like a thread throughout the film; they weave around and together attempt to bring Perotin's time and music back to life. The director did not so much employ the classic documentary format with interviews and a historical ambience, rather, his focus was on the presence of music and the staging of the images and the participants.

The four scientists Martin Burckhardt, Rudolf Flotzinger, Christian Kaden and Jürg Stenzl, who were filmed in various places, such as the choir stalls of Schleswig Cathedral, discuss the fundamentals of Perotin's music. In the film, the scientists do not just engage in scholastic dispute, they also play around each other as part of a staged workshop discussion. Only, the workshop is a church; the church as a space where Perotin's music can and was able to develop. The film also opens up another sphere of experience; watching the renowned choreographer Johann Kresnik creating a dance. Through the medium of dance, the choreographer and the two dancers, Simona Furlani and Tanja Oetterli, look for ways and possibilities to make the lyrics of Perotin's vocal music comprehensible to us today. The worlds of medieval theology and of the modern conception of art meet in order to find a degree of mutual understanding in the artistic outcome. And in the end, when the scholarly dispute about the appropriate way to judge Perotin's music historically, and the choreographed dance as a video projection end up in the sacred space of a church, interwoven with the chanting of the Hilliard Ensemble, the film, in a contemporary way, shows the particular nature and the origins of European culture in a literally multidimensional form.

As a result of the difficult and time-consuming 3 year research for the film, and the no less complex technical implementation involved, the director and his team travelled to many locations in Europe. The church of St. Petri, in Lübeck, was chosen as the projection room, which seemed predestined for the idea of a visual staging with its bare, white walls devoid of ornaments or furnishing. For tracking shots, sound recordings, the conceptual implementation and other shots, the cathedrals of Laon, Troyes and Schleswig, a village church near Pfullingen, as well as the cathedrals of NôtreDame and St. Denis in Paris were used as models for Perotin's work. The Gothic architecture of the French cathedrals with their unique spatial effects and religiously-historical, architectural language were thus not just cinematically transformed into the church in Lübeck, they also served as symbolic, stone reflections for the 12th and 13th centuries.

Perotin and the time represents the philosophical dimension of polyphonic music and medieval innovations, which the film is seeking to make comprehensible in today's terms. As if on a journey through time, the film seeks to discover two levels of Perotin's music and its revolutionary modernity. The first discovery during the preparations for the film was that the rhythm of the four-voiced chant is structured in time — it works only once it is subjected to a fixed tempo. And how does that differ from the apparently modern way a mechanical clock measures time? Only that neither the mechanical clock nor polyphonic music is a creation of the modern age; both were invented in the supposedly dark, medieval times of the 12th to 14th centuries. And Perotin is at the centre of this development, and it is partly due to him that time is no longer perceived as something that goes by as the rushing of the wind, as the change of seasons and weather, as something cyclical. Rather, time becomes modern, so to speak, it becomes measurable through the ticking of the hands, and through the movement of the mechanism of a clock. Ever since, the flow of time has thus been identified with the mechanical movement of a clock. This philosophy of time, which is full of tension and which the film illustrates acoustically as well as visually, even includes the realisation that time, given its relativity, is measurable only to an extent. Pero-tin uses precisely this way of measuring time before the invention of the mechanical clock. But the idea is the same: time is divided up into small modes, which are used to make music with four different voices. The musical metre, which carries modes of the various voices, works in analogy with the seconds, minutes and hours of a clock. It is possible that Perotin was aware only of the musical aspect, and not its philosophical significance. In retrospect, however, we know that human awareness underwent radical changes at that time. And that is another reason why Perotin is "our contemporary" — because he conveyed to us an idea about how today's image of culture, and our understanding of time was beginning to gain ground even then.

The second dimension of Perotin's music which the film illuminates, lies in its textual character. The Latin texts of the chants reveal a central theme that was of crucial importance to medieval thought: the myth of the virgin conception and birth, which was realised again and again not just in texts, but also in church architecture and Christian iconography. Numerous churches, such as Nôtre-Dame in Paris, were dedicated to Mary as the mother of God, and she also represents the vessel for the Messiah. Many medieval works of art depict Mary together with a heavenly beam of light to show that she receives the truth. These processes have to be explained by analogy to people of the 21st century. Cultural historian Martin Burckhardt does just that in the film, explaining the virgin birth using contemporary media theories. Thus understood, Mary becomes the medium for the birth of the light figure of Christ, as the pure, white projection screen onto which God's light is projected and can be passed on. And just like the cinematic screen receives the beams of light of the cinema projector and reflects human bodies, so Mary produces the metaphysical body of God. This idea can be taken even further; one could view the Gothic cathedrals with their light architecture, and their eastern alignment towards the Messiah and bringer of light in analogy with picture theatres, the cinemas of today. The cinema produces light figures of its own. Such considerations, such media-theoretic connections between then and now, between the Middle Ages and Modernity, are, as the film illustrates, what makes Perotin our contemporary, not least in this regard. In order to symbolise this relationship, the church served as a projection space, as a three-dimensional projection screen for animated and pre-produced images. The film thus merges the metaphorical language of the 21st century with the architectural and musical language of the 12th and 13th centuries. As a play between heaven and earth, as a sign for old and new, as proof that every age looks for its figures of light. And so the dance of the two Marys, as a form of the mediaeval dance of Mary projected into the church, is an attempt to receive the kiss of a divine nature.

Perotin and the chant of the Hilliard Ensemble turn the film into an experience of sound which combines this 800-year old music with modern singing. For more than 30 years, this vocal ensemble has artistically recreated the music of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and worked with contemporary musicians and composers. The four singers David James (countertenor), Rogers Covey-Crump and Steven Harrold (tenor) and Gordon Jones (baritone) make up this quartet which is world-famous for its exact and exquisite interpretations. Because of the group's unmistakeable style and their extraordinary musical skills, compositions have been written especially for the Hilliard Ensemble. The ensemble, which was named after the English painter Nicolas Hilliard (15471619), thus has a varied repertoire, which spans 800 years of music from Perotin to contemporary music.

The Hilliard Ensemble has also collaborated with the jazz musician Jan Garbarek and the Estonian composer Arvo Part in novel ways. The two recordings Officium and Mnemosyme, which the Hilliard Ensemble produced in the 90s with Garbarek, was a big success with the public and the press during the period of this crossover. As early as 1988, the vocal ensemble performed the Passio, by Avo Part, which later led to other cooperations with Baltic composers, such as Veljo Tormis and Erkki-Sven Tüür. The Hilliard Ensemble wrote the film music for the Canadian film Lilies, from the year 1997. They also gave performances with famous orchestras, such as the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of Sir Andrew Davis and Kent Nagano.

The Hilliard Ensemble were guests at all major British festivals, such as Bath, Cheltenham, Aldeburgh, Norwich, at the London Proms and the City of London Festival. Today, they perform on all of the world's major stages. The Hilliard Ensemble also participated at the Berliner Festwochen, the Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele, the Schleswig-Holstein music festival, the `Tage alter Musik' in Bonn, the MDR Musiksommer, the Bach-Fest in Leipzig, the Bregenzer Festspiele, the Salzburger Festspiele and the festival in Aix-en-Provence.

In the autumn of 2001, Morimur, the product of a successful collaboration with German violinist and Baroque expert, Christoph Poppen, was published. 2002 saw the première of The Pear Tree of Nicostratus, by Piers Hellawell, with the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, in Kaustinen, Finnland. In 2002, inpetto filmproduktion produced a film portrait of the Hilliard Ensemble for ZDF/ ARTE. September 2003 saw the first performance of Stephen Hartke's Symphony No. 3, based on old Anglo-Saxon texts with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, which was enthusiastically received by the public and the press.

Thy kiss of a divine nature is a high-tech pleasure to the senses, which allows today's listener to appreciate the artistry of medieval music. The audiovisual implementation of this documentary in cinematic format was a complex process, produced by Uli Aumüller's inpetto filmproduktion, as well as various other partners. The film was co-produced by Bewegte Bilder Medien AG, Cinegate GmbH , Digital Images GmbH, Bayrisches Fernsehen and ARTE. The material included analogue standard photography, high-resolution digital photography, steadicam journeys through a wood at dawn, time lapse photography of light adaptations in a church, a 60 metre long dolly track journey through the nave of Laon Cathedral, and blue screen recordings of the two dancers, all of which were used for projections with video and large screen projectors in the church in Lübeck.

In 2002, two years before the start of the shooting, the director and author of the film project, Thy Kiss of a Divine Nature — The Contemporary Perotin, wrote an essay — an interview with himself, where he talks about his vision of the film project in a detailed and imaginative way. This text became an exposé of sound, which contributed crucially to the financing of the film project — Ulrich Ritter spoke the part of the director, while the director himself only asked questions. In 2005, one and a half years after the end of shooting, Stefan Gagstetter and Uli Aumüller began to illustrate this interview using the project's copious archive material, and to compose a new video track to the existing sound track. The result was a two-voice sound-image fugue, where the voices are simultaneously independent and intertwined, similar to Perotin's polyphonic music. The third part of this DVD production shows the unabridged symposion of the four scholars Martin Burckhardt, Rudolf Flotzinger, Christian Kaden and Jürg Stenzl, which was recorded on 13/03/2003 in the choir stalls of Schleswig Cathedral. This conversation, which is reproduced in excerpts in the cinema version of the film, shows how scientists approach the phenomenon of the Middle Ages in various ways. In a virtuoso manner and with great passion, these four men discuss the contemporary nature of the composer, whose historical existence, as mentioned above, is in doubt. This mere biographical happenstance, however, does nothing to lessen the beauty of his music. And although these four scientists are faced with insoluble problems, the musical genius of this medieval composer, despite their differences of opinion, is undisputed even for them.

Digital Images (digim) were responsible for the complete post production process of the film project, including the conception, adaptation and digitalisation of both DVDs, and the CD. With close to 1500 DVD productions to date, this Halle-based company belong amongst the world market leaders in classical DVD productions. From approximately 200 DVDs produced internationally every year in the fields of classical music, ballet and opera, 170 of these are mastered by digim, in Halle. They create high end productions for Arthaus Musik, Bel Air Classique, Euroarts, TDK, Deutsche Grammophon, about the content of the film also applies and EMI, amongst others. to the quality of the DVD: "And it turns The postproduction of the film material out that the Middle Ages as a whole, and for Thy Kiss of a Divine Nature included Perotin's music in particular, were surdrawing up sound and image logs, colour prisingly modern."

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