The Portugese renaissance composer Frei Manuel Cardoso was born in 1566 in Fronteira, which was at that time part of the arch-diocese of Évora. When he was nine years old he was sent to Évora cathedral’s choir school the Colégio dos Moços do Coro, for training as a chorister, in composition, and in grammar by Father Cosme Delgado and Father Manuel Mendes. On July 1st 1588 he entered the Carmelite Convent (Convento do Carmo) in Lisbon and took his vows as a monk there on 5 July 1589. He was soon appointed mestre da capela and sub-prior at the Carmo and spent most of his life at the convent. It’s very likely that João Duke of Barcelos – who became King João IV of Portugal following the withdrawal of the Spanish was his pupil certainly the king held him and his music in regard and considered Cardoso to be a friend and acted both as a patron and kept Cardoso’s portrait in his musical library to prove it. Cardoso reciprocated by dedicating his first book of Masses to João in 1625, his second book of Masses on themes provided by João in 1636, and his last volume, the Livro de varios motetes which contained music for Advent, Lent, Holy Week, together with the Mass and the Office of the Dead in 1645. The Spanish monarchy also provided patronage so much so that that Cardoso dedicated his third book of Masses including a is a Missa Philippina to King Philip IV of Spain in 1636. By all accounts he was a thoroughly pleasant man who was well loved and greatly mourned upon his death in 1650.
His music is proof if proof were needed that ‘traditional’ contrapuntal techniques were alive and well on the Iberian peninsula. No less than five of the Masses in his first book of Masses his Liber primus are based on motets by Palestrina. Of these five two the Missa ‘Tradent enim vos’ and the Missa ‘Anima mea turbata est valde’, have conspicuously virtuosic canonical writing. The fact that he was a traditionalist doesn’t however mean that his music is either staid, boring, or derivative. Far from it, Cardoso made heavy use of chromatic inflexions and of altered vertical intervals to create the very expressive and colourful musical language that you can hear in the motet I’ve picked for this posting. You’ll find Mulier quae erat, its text, and a translation below. Enjoy :-)
Text: Mulier quae erat
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|Mulier quae erat in civitate peccatrix, |
stans retro secus pedes Domini,
lacrimis coepit rigare pedes eius,
et capillis capitis sui tergebat
et osculabatur pedes eius et unguento ungebat.
|A woman that was in the city, a sinner, |
standing behind at the feet of the Lord,
began to wash his feet with tears,
and dried them with her hair,
and kissed his feet, and anointed them with oil.