The Masses of Gregorio Allegri Part 5 — Missa ‘Che fa oggi il mio sole’

Gregorio Allegri’s five-part setting (SSATB) of the Mass ‘Che fa oggi il mio sole’ is based upon Luca Marenzio’s motet of the same name. It’s very much in the stile antico as you might expect from the man whose fellow musicians elected as the guardian of Palestrina’s legacy in 1640 but it’s also a very innovative and modern piece for its time. You can hear the Marenzio’s opening in the Kyrie and this sets the pattern throughout the Mass where Marenzio’s melody crops up again and again lightly disguised by variation and imitative development.

It’s almost completely polyphonic with very little homophony even in the Credo where you might expect to find it. Allegri has the reputation of being a somewhat staid and conservative composer but this Mass gives the lie to that. He makes great use of triple time – for example at ‘Et resurrexit’ and in the second of his Osannas – this latter prefiguring similar use of fast triple-time which wouldn’t become common until late in the sixteenth century. He also makes greater use of harmony in the bass part than you would expect for example, from Palestrina. In his introductory notes Harry Christophers describes it as being more tonal than modal and this is exactly right it’s also a very good example of how notwithstanding the fact that he was writing in the stile antico that Allegri was forward-looking, innovative, and imaginative composer with a voice all of his own. Enjoy :-)



Gregorio Allegri (1582-1652) Missa ‘Che fa oggi il mio sole’
Performers: The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (conductor)
Photo: Sistine chapel – exterior. Photo credit: ahoy.christine

Series Navigation<< The Masses of Gregorio Allegri Part 3 — Missa Vidi turbam magnamThe Masses of Gregorio Allegri Part 6 — Missa Christus resurgens >>

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