Gregorio Allegri (1582 1652) is known today for one piece of music – his setting of Psalm 51 Miserere mei deus. But, as the fact that he was elected maestro di capella of the Papal choir in 1650 and that his fellow musicians had elected him in 1640 to revise Palestrina’s hymns (which was necessary because of Pope Urban VIII’s revision of the texts), there was far more to him than that. He wouldn’t have had those honours bestowed upon him if his contemporaries hadn’t seen him as Palestrina’s successor and a worthy composer in the the stile antico in his own right.
His Missa in lectulo meo is a parody Mass in eight parts based upon a motet of the same name1 by Pierre Bonhomme (or Bonomi) a Flemish composer who was active in Rome before being granted livings in his native Liege by the Pope. It’ a wonderful piece of music and one which, to my mind. goes a long way to explaining why Allegri’s fellow musicians thought so much of him. In it he takes Bonhomme’s motet as a starting point and builds something entirely new from it. This becomes clear very early on in the Mass when during the Kyrie he takes a melisma of Bonhomme’s and uses it to create points of imitation – something he does repeatedly throughout the Mass. (His double Christe Eleison reminds me somewhat of De Lassus). Taken as a whole it’s an opulent and lively piece full of inentive melodicism and with very effective use of dissonance. Enjoy :-)
Video and description source: Gregorio Allegri 1582 1652 Missa In lectulo meo – YouTube Published on Nov 3, 2013 by markfromireland
- I wrote about this motet yesterday – mfi ↩