Monthly Archives: February 2012

Francesco Azopardi: Nisi Dominus — Knabenchor der Chorakademie Dortmund

February 20, 2012

The Maltese composer Francesco Azopardi [Azzopardi], (5 May 1748 — 6 Feb 1809) studied under Carlo Contumacci, Joseph Doll, at the Conservatorio di S Onofrio a Capuana in Naples between 1763 and 1767. He left the conservatorio in 1767 but stayed on as maestro di cappella studying under Niccolò Piccinni. Seven years later he accepted a post in Mdina Cathedral, this return to Malta was permanent,  as well as his duties in the cathedral his growing interest in pedagogy led to the publication of his book Il musico prattico  which was published both in Italian and in French translation. In its time it was a very influential work being used as a text book in Paris while Cherubini based a chapter of his Cours de contrepoint (1835) on its analysis of imitation. Azopardi's own students included Bugeja, Isouard, and Burlon.  His music is often a fusion of contemporary Classical techniques and contrapuntalism and shows a talented composer concerned that his settings should respect the text's spirit and meaning. His setting of "Nisi Dominus" Psalm 126 (127) is performed here by the Knabenchor der Chorakademie Dortmund , the soloists were Carlo Wilfart and Leonard Aurisch. Text and translations are below the fold. Enjoy :-).


Source: Nisi Dominus" Knabenchor der Chorakademie Dortmund – YouTube Uploaded by SoloforTristan on Jan 14, 2012

Text: Nisi Dominus

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

Anton Bruckner: Os justi – Heinrich-Schütz-Enesmble Vornbach + via-nova-chor München

February 19, 2012

Begegnungen - two very good Bavarian Choirs and Conductors: Martin Steidler + Florian Helgath. Concert at the Erlöserkirche, Munich, February 18, 2012.

Source: Anton Bruckner: Os justi - Heinrich-Schütz-Enesmble Vornbach + via-nova-chor München – YouTube Uploaded by DolfRabus on 19 Feb 2012

Sunday Playlist: John Taverner: Missa Corona Spinea

February 19, 2012

Taverner's 'Missa Corona Spinea' ('Crown of Thorns Mass') is one of three festal masses that he is known to have composed – the other two are Gloria tibi Trinitas,and O Michael. Each of Taverner's three festal Masses is constructed over a cantus firmus, that is they are constructed over a pre-existing melody used as the basis for their (polyphonic) composition. And each is scored for six-part choir including the high trebles so characteristic of late medieval and renaissance English music. Taken together they represent a crowning moment in Tudor period music and a high point in the development of the English festal Mass.

Note: This is the first posting in a series of three dealing with Taverner's festal Masses.  The remaining two postings will be posted on Sunday February 26th 2012 and Sunday March 4th 2012.

Guercino (1591-1666) Christ Crowned with Thorns Date

Nobody quite knows for which occasion Taverner composed 'Missa Corona Spinea'. Its title might lead the twenty first century observer to believe that it is connected with the Feast of the Crown of Thorns but such an assumption is difficult to sustain in the face of the facts that:

  1. It's the longest of Taverner’s settings and is clearly intended for an elaborate ceremony involving a large choir.
  2. The choir would have to include boys of exceptional skill – particularly given the consistently florid writing for trebles.
  3. The Feast of the Crown of Thorns  was considered to be of only minor importance in the Sarum calendar.

It's unlikely therefore that it was written for the Feast of the Crown of Thorns. There are other scholarly difficulties associated with this Mass –  one of them being that nobody knows the source of the cantus firmus used by Taverner to provide the Mass' structure, another is that nobody knows for sure when it was composed. It doesn't appear in the part-books compiled for use at Cardinal College in the late 1520s so it's reasonable to suppose that it was probably composed sometime after that decade.

Structurally 'Missa Corona Spinea' is typically English in consisting of only four movements:

  • Movement 1: Gloria
  • Movement 2: Credo
  • Movement 3: Sanctus and Benedictus
  • Movement 4: Agnus Dei (I & II)

This structure came about because in the Sarum rite – the rite most widely used in England before Henry VIII’s break with Rome, the Kyrie was performed as 'troped plainchant' that is it was performed with extra words added these words being varied by the season. The movements are more or less the same length with the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei containing rather more melismatic writing than either the Gloria or the Credo. (Another typically English feature of 'Missa Corona Spinea's '  structure is the abbreviated Credo). 

This is a Mass I come back to time and time again. I admire how Taverner uses the cantus firmus (tenor) as the foundation for both the shifting full sections and the reduced-voice passages while the duets and trios are, to my mind, among his best work, they remind me of Josquin for some reason. I also admire and enjoy how he exploits the range between the top and bottom parts, for his time his use of this technique for example at 'Et expecto' during the Credo and at the start of the Agnus Dei I was spectacular, still is spectacular in fact. While his division of the trebles in the Benedictus takes my breath away.

You'll find a playlist with the complete Mass and its separate movements together with the text and an English translation below the fold. The singers are The Sixteen conducted by Harry Christophers. Enjoy :-).


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

Philippe Jaroussky with L’Arpeggiata and Christina Pluhar

February 18, 2012

This, LArpeggiatas first release on Virgin Classics, explores music by Claudio Monteverdi, blending instruments and voices including those of countertenor Philippe Jaroussky and soprano Núria Rial in a kind of intoxicating baroque jam session. It includes the final duet from Lincoronazione di Poppea, often cited as one of the most sensuous and beautiful love scenes in all opera.

Don't let the breathless tone of the blurb put you off – this is some really lovely singing. Enjoy :-).


Source: Philippe Jaroussky with L'Arpeggiata and Christina Pluhar – YouTube Uploaded by emiclassics on Dec 5, 2008

Drakensberg Boys Choir New Boys 2012 First Performance

February 17, 2012

The 2012 New Boy group performing Shake the Papaya Down during their first performance on Wednesday 15 February 2012.
Shake the Papaya Down (Trad. Arr.: Ruth Dwyer)

Source: New Boys 2012 First Performance – YouTube Uploaded by DBCHOIR on Feb 16, 2012


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