Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585)(attrib): Out from the deep

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August 3, 2015

Tallis 180 x 150Tallis was one of the composers who composed some of the earliest English anthems. Tallis is generally reckoned to have composed around forty but that's a more than somewhat misleading figure as quite a few of his English compositions are straightforward contrafacta of Latin compositions. There are also several anthems which are no believed to have been misattributed amongst which this setting of Psalm 130 Out from the deep (De Profundis) which may in fact be by William Parsons. Its text is from a metrical version of Psalm 130 and it's in the ABB format (i.e. two sections, the second of which is repeated) used by many Edwardian and early Elizabethan anthem composers. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Johann Adolf Hasse (1699-1783): Requiem in E-flat major [Dresdner Kammerchor-Dresdner Barockorchester]

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August 2, 2015

Hasse was very famous, popular, and influential, during his lifetime but his works aren't often performed today. His music is very Italianate as indeed was his private life – he married an Italian prima donna and they moved to Italy during his later years. He wrote a vast amount of music including this delightful Requiem in E-flat major. Delightful? A requiem? Well, yes, I can't think of any other word to describe it. It's a very attractive more than somewhat operatic piece of music and when I say 'operatic' I really mean it, it's so operatic that it includes places where the soloist can improvise cadenzas – which they do with considerable flair in this recording. The Dies Irae reminds me of something from the Mozart Requiem, but then strikes out for pastures new, the Lacrymosa does likewise while the Recordare is a long florid soprano aria. The entire piece is like this true it has a few solemn moments but taken as a whole it's operatic and very cheerful indeed in places it's downright bouncy. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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John Dunstable (± 1390-1453): Beata Dei genitrix

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August 1, 2015

The English guise they wear with grace
They follow Dunstable aright,
And thereby have they learned apace
To make their music gay and bright.

English composers had considerable influence in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance perhaps the most influential was Dunstable of whom Martin le Franc wrote that Guillaume Du Fay and Gilles Binchois, "took of the English manner, and followed Dunstable, whereby wondrous pleasure makes their music joyous and famous". (I wrote about Dunstable's significance here John Dunstable (± 1390-1453): Magnificat | Saturday Chorale - mfi). So closely did Du Fay and Binchois follow Dunstable that sometimes his music music was attributed to them as occurred with this setting of the Marian intercessionary motet Beata Dei genitrix (Blessed Mother of God) which for a long time was believed to be by Binchois. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Henry Purcell (1659-1695): How Happy the Lovers

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July 31, 2015

Purcell Closterman Small This chorus is from Act IV the semi-opera King Arthur, or The British Worthy (1691) the libretto was by John Dryden. It's a wonderfully sensual and rich piece of  music into which Purcell wove tutti, solos, male and female voices, and duets. It's very French you can hear that Lully's Passacaille d’Armide impressed Purcell. During Act IV siren try to tempt Arthur into a stream but fail. A group of nymphs and sylvans then appears and 'sing and dance the following song, all with Branches in their Hands'. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Arvo Pärt (b1935): Veni, Creator

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July 30, 2015

Arvo Pärt Captioned SmallVeni, Creator Spiritus attributed to Rabanus Maurus (776-856) is one of the Church's most famous hymns. As well as at Vespers it's used at any ceremony at which the Holy Spirit is invoked such as Confirmation, Pentecost, and ordination. Pärt's setting of the first and fourth verses of the hymn was first performed in Fulda Cathedral in September 2006 1 and evokes the "mood of stillness" typical of many of Pärt's choral compositions. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Hymn – Lord of all hopefulness (St Paul’s Cathedral Choir, 2015) – YouTube

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July 29, 2015

The Choir of St. Paul's Cathedral directed by Andrew Carwood performing Joyce Torrens' hymn 'Lord of all hopefulness' at the service of commemoration to mark the tenth anniversary of the July 7th terrorist bombings in London.

mfi Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

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Francisco Guerrero ( 1528 – 1599): Prudentes virgines

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July 28, 2015

Francisco Guerrero's five-part motet Prudentes virgines (wise virgins) sets a text based on the Gospel parable of the ten virgins (the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins) it was first published in Venice in 1570.  Guerrero was greatly admired by his contemporaries not least Alonso Lobo who based his Missa Prudentes virgines upon Guerrero's motet. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Philippe Verdelot (±1480-±1530): Ultimi miei sospiri

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July 27, 2015

Perhaps because a collection of his madrigals was the first ever printed Philippe Verdelot is considered by some as the inventor of the madrigal. I'm not sure I'd go quite that far but  he was certainly the early 16th century's  most important and innovative composer of Italian madrigals. He was born in France but his career was in Italy and included such important posts as maestro di cappella at the Baptistry of S. Maria del Fiore and Florence's Duomo. (A good short biography of him by Donato Mancini can be found  here – mfi). His madrigal Ultimi miei sospiri is not only a delightfully expressive piece of music but also a very good example of how innovative Verdelot was. It's in six parts, which was an innovation in and of itself, and is full of contrasting textures between the voices, Verdelot also makes use of tessitura for example at 'Dite, o beltà infinita' (Speak, O infinite beauty) where he marks the change from narration to interlocution by using the highest pitch yet heard in the piece. It rapidly became famous and was used by De Monte as the basis for his setting of the Mass Missa Ultimi miei sospiri. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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The Benefits of Singing in a Choir – Professor Paul Welch – YouTube

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July 26, 2015

The benefits of singing in a choir are many and various. In particular, there are positive physical outcomes and mental health benefits.

These are related to improved cardiovascular fitness (including lung function), as well as improved mood and general alertness, often allied to a feeling of being spiritually uplifted. Because singing involves many different areas of the brain acting in concert, there are often associated cognitive benefits, such as improvements in children’s reading ability that are linked to increased auditory discrimination that supports phonological development.

There are also social and psychosocial benefits, as singing in a collective can improve participants’ sense of belonging and of being socially included by engendering a positive sense of community. Benefits are available across the lifespan and are indicated pre-birth in the final months of foetal life. At the other end of the lifespan, singing can bring a stronger and more positive sense of identity in a context where there is often a sense of loss of control due to the challenges of aging. There are also musical and cultural benefits as participants gain skills, knowledge and understanding of the nature and place of music in their lives and the lives of others.

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Danny Boy a cappella – Libera live from Guildford Cathedral – 2015 – YouTube

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July 25, 2015

How about we start the weekend with some of Libera's always excellent singing? Enjoy :-)
mfi Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

Guillaume de Machaut (±1300-1377): Inviolata Genitrix

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July 24, 2015

Historiated initial accompanying hymns to  the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Source: Compendium morale of Roger de Waltham (d. 1336).  Unknown artist. Location: University of Glasgow Library.

Historiated initial accompanying hymns to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Source: Compendium morale of Roger de Waltham (d. 1336).
Unknown artist.
Location: University of Glasgow Library.

Guillaume de Machaut continues to be acknowledged to this day as the most significant French poet and composer of the fourteenth century [I wrote about him here: Sunday Feature: Guillaume de Machaut (c1300-1377): – Messe de Nostre Dame – Ensemble Gilles Binchois dir. D. Vellard | Saturday Chorale – mfi]. He was both a poet and a musician and it's no exaggeration to say that he dominated French poetry and music for several generations after his death. His four-part setting of the Marian motet Inviolata Genetrix (Virgin mother) is a typical Marian intercessionary motet of its period in which the Virgin, who was seen as a more approachable figure than Christ, is asked to protect her devotees to intercede for them in the dire straits in which they find themselves:

"help us decisively
for we perish,
we are violently attacked
but are feebly defended,"

(The reference is to the ravages of the 100 years war). It's an unusual piece of music that sounds very unfamiliar to modern ears but which repays the effort made. It's also unusual amongst Machaut's motets firstly because it is a four-part setting (motetus, triplem, contratenor and tenor) with contratenor and tenor singing the same text, and secondly because it's in Latin and Machaut set mostly French secular texts. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Henri Dumont (±1610 – 1684): Panis Angelicus

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July 23, 2015

Du Mont was born near Liège in what is now Belgium he was educated at the Jesuit college and  the choir school of Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk in Maastricht but spent most of his life in France where, from 1660 on he filled a variety of posts at the court serving in turn the King's brother, queen Marie-Thérèse, and ultimately Louis XIV himself as sous-maître  of the Chapelle-Royale where he remained until 1683. He's mostly remembered for his motets in particular his grands motets of which more than eighty survive. But he could also write very beautiful and very intimate petits motets as his setting of the last two verses of  Sacris Solemnis which you can hear below shows. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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