Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750): Zerfließe mein Herze – Soprano Aria from St John Passion BWV245

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April 25, 2014

Zerfließe mein Herze (Dissolve, my heart) is one of Bach's most lovely solo soprano arias. It's sung below by treble Tizian Geyer of the Knabenchor der Chorakademie Dortmund. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Laudate Dominum RV606

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April 24, 2014

Vivaldi's powerful and concise setting of Psalm 116 (117 in Protestant bibles) for choir and strings is one of my favourites. It dates from his 'first' period at the Pietà because it's so short – there're only two verses plus the Lesser Doxology Vivaldi had to find a way of making it musically interesting. He solved the problem by reversing the usual order of priorities all of the melodic and rhythmic interest in the piece lies in the violin part with its short archiform motif that appears and reappears in some variation or another in literally every bar. The result is a magnificent piece of music for unison violins with vocal accompaniment. Enjoy :-)

markfromireland

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Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Candidi facti sunt

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April 23, 2014

Tallis'  Candidi facti sunt, is a responsory intended to be sung in honour of one or more Apostles, or an Evangelist, during Eastertide. Given that

  1. The Tudor monarchs took a close interest and usually participated in the royal household's religious observances for Feast days.

    and

  2. That the only Apostles or Evangelists whose feasts can fall within Eastertide are St. Mark (25 April) and Ss. Philip and James (1 May).

Candidi facti sunt must have been written for a year when one or other of those feasts coincided with some important political or diplomatic (court) occasion. Like all of his Latin hymns and responsories it's essentially a setting of the original plainchant melody and reflects its plainchant origins in that its performance involves alternating plainchant and polyphony with the polyphonic sections quoting the chant that they replace.  Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

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John Amner (1579-1641): Sing O Heavens

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April 22, 2014

This glorious seven-part anthem, Sing, O heav 'ns  (SSAATBB) is a perfect example of the richness and sonority that typified early seventeenth-century English anthems. I wonder if its scoring meant that Amner felt he couldn't divide the tenor line. Or perhaps he wrote it with the stunning acoustic of Ely Cathedral's Lady Chapel in mind, that is probably more likely now that I think of it because the Lady Chapel also served as Amner's parish church The Church of the Holy Trinity. Either way it's a wonderfully celebratory piece. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

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Bach St John Passion Johannes-Passion BWV 245 John Eliot Gardiner – YouTube

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April 21, 2014

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (±1525-1594): Angelus Domini II a 5

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April 20, 2014

Palestrina's recounting of the story of the Angel in the garden appearing to the two women and telling them that Christ is risen is a gloriously sunny and happy piece of music. I love how Palestrina contrasts the floating syncopation at 'quem quaeritis' ('he whom you seek') with the vigour of 'surrexit' ('is risen'). Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

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Easter Sunday 2014: Ludwig Senfl (±1489-1543) – Missa Paschalis (Easter Mass)

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April 20, 2014

I wish you all a happy, holy and peaceful Easter.

markfromireland

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Grzegorz Gerwazy Gorczycki (±1665 — 1734): Sepulto Domino

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April 19, 2014

The Gospel according to St. Matthew relates how following Jesus' burial on Good Friday the chief priests went to Pilate to ask that the tomb be sealed and guarded, to prevent the Disciples stealing the body with a view to falsely proclaiming Christ’s resurrection. These verses form the basis for Sepulto Domino, they've been set by many different composers ranging from de Lassus, to Gesualdo, to Zelenka. A composer whose settings are well-known throughout Eastern Europe but aren't so well-known in Western Europe is Grzegorz Gerwazy Gorczycki  (±1665 – 1734).

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Philippe Rogier (±1561-1596): Caligaverunt oculi mei

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April 18, 2014

Rogier was a Flemish composer who started his musical career at the Spanish court as one of the choirboys recruited by Philip II's maestro de capilla Geert van Turnhout. During his all-too-short life he rose to become the Emperor's maestro de capilla himself. His music with its unusual dissonances, striking accidentals, and unexpected suspensions can sound surprisingly modern as can his sudden harmonc shifts – all of these techniques are used in Caligaverunt oculi mei to express both grief and remorse and it ends with a plainitive cry of the bereft Rogier mourning our crucified Lord – Videte omnes populi, si dolor similis sicut dolor meus,  (See, all you people, whether any grief can be compared to mine).

markfromireland

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Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla (± 1590 -1664): Lamentation for Maundy Thursday, ‘Incipit lamentatio Jeremiae Prophetae’

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April 17, 2014

For this year's Maundy Thursday I've chosen Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla's setting of Lectio I (Incipit Lamentatio Ieremiae prophetae) of the Lamentations for Maundy Thursday 'In Coena Domini'. It's a six-part setting and as you might expect from de Padilla it's very traditional in tone with it's polyphony being firmly based on the Toledo Lamentation tone and uses very fluid and sad vocalisations for the Hebrew letters—Aleph, Beth, and Gimel between the verses. It's sung below, superbly as always, by the Westminster Cathedral Choir conducted by James O'Donnell.

markfromireland

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George Malcolm (1917-1997): Miserere mei Deus

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April 16, 2014

Psalm 51 – the Miserere, is the Biblical text around which the Ash Wednesday liturgy revolves. George Malcolm's setting (Malcolm was Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral between 1947 and 1959) is an alternatim setting of the Psalm. It's a beautiful piece of work that deserves to be far better known in which Malcolm switches between the higher and lower voices in an unadorned second mode chant which he offsets with polyphonic expansions and variations. The voices join together for the second half of the Gloria  in a descant of great power and beauty.

markfromireland

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Orlande de Lassus (±1530-1594): Timor et tremor

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April 15, 2014

De Lassus' six-part motet Timor et tremor is a complex and rewarding piece in which De Lassus trys – I think successfully, to portray musically emotional insecurity. Its use of disjunction makes it a beast to sing at all let alone to sing well which is why I greatly admire this performance of it by The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge, under their conductor Andrew Nethsingha.

markfromireland

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