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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William Byrd (±1539-1623): O God, the proud are risen against me

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April 14, 2014

In his note to this wonderfully imposing six-part anthem Peter Phillips speculates that it echoes the sentiment felt by Queen Elizabeth I 'when faced with the Northern Rebellion of 1569, or the Babington plot to assassinate her in 1586'. Maybe so but somehow I doubt it, I think it far more likely that it's an example of Byrd crying to God against the persecution of his faith by Ekizabeth's government. Whatever the truth of the matter it's a glorious piece of music that's gloriously well sung below by the Tallis Scholars. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

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J. S. Bach (1685–1750): Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu Dir BWV 246/40a (De profundis)

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April 12, 2014

Of the five passions mentioned by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and Johann Friedrich Agricola in Johann Sebastian Bach’s obituary notice of 1754 only two have survived the one based on the Gospel According to St. John and the one based on the Gospel According to St. Matthew. There was also a passion based on the Gospel According to St. Mark but only the text of that particular passion has come down to us. So what of the other two? They seem to have vanished without trace but an important point to remember is that the passions Bach presented in Leipzig weren't necessarily always composed by him. He also presented the works of other composers such Reinhard Keiser it's entirely possible that the St. Luke Passion that he presented to the congregation in 1730 and then in 1745 was another composer's work. We also know that the St. Luke Passion published in the 1895  edition of Bach's complete works and listed as BWV 246 is very unlikely to have been composed by Bach. In 1971 writing in the Bach-Jahrbuch the late Yoshitake Kobayashi wrote about an autograph copy by Bach in which he had taken the two-voice setting sung by Peter in the St. Luke passion to the words of the sixth verse of the chorale and refashioned the chorale melody to make it conform to the expanded form in use in his parish. This expansion is the basis of the expanded this chorale setting  you can hear below scored for tenor and five strings, including two violas. A curiosity? Certainly, but one that will amply repay the very small amount of time it takes to listen to.

markfromireland

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Nicolas Gombert (±1495-c1560): Aspice Domine

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April 11, 2014

This is a strange and utterly devastating piece of music. It's related to one of the most infamous acts of the Renaissance – the sacking of Rome in 1527 by the troops of the Emperor Charles V. Gombert portrays the devastation wreaked upon Rome using dissonance in the first part of the piece while in the second he uses harmony to to depict God setting the world to right by encircling the city with a protecting wall.

markfromireland

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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Domine ad adiuvandum RV593

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April 10, 2014

This is one of the most perfect pieces of music that Vivaldi ever wrote.  The text is half a verse from Psalm 69 (70) as a response to the versicle with which Vespers begins 'Deus in adjutorium meum intende'. It's one of a group of large-scale double choir works that Vivaldi wrote during the 1720s. It's a brilliantly antiphonal piece of music in which Vivaldi exploits the antiphonal potential of setting a double choir against the orchestra to the hilt. The second movement, an ecstatic Gloria in E minor is followed by a doxology in which the choirs unite in a fugue that have several subjects and counter-subjects. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

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