Feature: Duarte Lôbo (±1565-1646): Missa Pro Defunctis a8

On September 21st 2012 I posted two motets by Duarte Lôbo Pater Peccavi ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMKib… ) and Audivi vocem de cælo ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64cGZ… ) they’re the only two of Lôbo’s motets that have survived and are not only beautiful and interesting pieces of music in and of themselves but are also interesting because Lôbo wrote them as appendages to the sombre beauty that is his eight-part setting of the Mass for the dead published in 1621 in the Liber Missarum.

This wasn’t the first time that Lôbo had published material for the Office of the Dead in 1603 he published editions of texts and plainsong for it and in 1607 he published similar material in the Lisbon processional. The 1621 Mass develops the earlier material it’s characterised by very plain harmonies, strong bass lines, some antiphonal writing and a close relationship to the chant. The plainess of his harmonic writing is easily understood; for a start there’s the forces he used – two each of sopranos, altos, tenors and basses (SATBx2) and this coupled with the Iberian tradition of monumentalism made such plainess inevitable. If you were to look at the score you’d find that he provides the plainsong intonations, incipits and verses and that his polyphony quotes and paraphrases the chant melodies frequently. The result of this as you might expect is generally somewhat homophonic which Lôbo relieves by regularly if briefly thinning his texture and by providing some rather lively counterpoint in the Gradual and in the Offertory. (The Gradual with its wonderfully fluid trio at ‘In memoria’ is particularly effective). It is in short the sort of music that you’d expect Lôbo as a Portugese priest heavily influenced by the conservatism ofÉvora and Coímbra to write. It’s solemn, and dignified, with plain outer movements framing the more innovative writing of the core and all of it very suitable for the rites of funeral and memorial. Its stark beauty was intended to heighten the feelings of grief and repentance amongst those who heard it and I think it must be said that in this Lôbo succeeded brilliantly.


Video and commentary source: ▶ Duarte Lôbo (±1565-1646): Missa Pro Defunctis a8 – YouTube Published on 26 Nov 2014 by markfromireland

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