Giaches de Wert (1535-96): Gaudete in Domino

De Wert is yet another one of the Flemish composers imported by the mid-to-late sixteenth century Italian aristocracy to sing and glorify God and themselves although not necessarily in that order. He worked in Northern Italy for most of his life and was tremendously influential both on his contemporaries and on future generations not least Claudio Monteverdi who studied under him and who he influenced quite strongly. Almost nothing is known about his early life other than that he was brought to Naples as a boy and that by the time he was sixteen he took up a post at the court of Novellara and that while there he published several books of madrigals all of which demonstrate his distinctive and original approach to the use of rhythm.  He seems to have stayed at Novellara until he was thirty at which point he was offered the highly prestigious post of maestro di capella by Duke Guglielmo Gonzaga of Mantua. At Mantua he produced no less than eight books of madrigals and it was also at Mantua that he had Monteverdi as an understudy for seven years between 1589 and 1596.

As maestro di capella he was expected to produce religious music as well as secular and his surviving output includes two settings of the Mass, various other liturgical works and three books of motets of which the second Il Secondo libro de motetti a cinque voci which was first published in 1581 is the source of Gaudete in Domin. Gaudete in Domino (Rejoice in the Lord) takes its text from Philippians 4:4 and is for five voices. I’ve chosen it to introduce his music because despite its brevity it exemplifies his compositional technique. It’s a very exuberant piece of music that makes a very madrigalian use of fast-moving and virtuosic writing to represent its command that we rejoice in the Lord. The mood throughout is lively and engaging and this mood is heightened and emphasised by the rapid trilling passage with which the motet ends. This exuberant portrayal of the word "joy" is something we’ll encounter again and again as we explore de Wert’s motets. Enjoy :-).


Giaches de Wert (1535-96): Gaudete in Domino

Gaudéte in Dómino semper: íterum dico gaudéte. ´

Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice.

Performers: Collegium Regale directed by Stephen Cleobury

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