Adrian Willaert (±1490-1562): Mittit ad virginem

Willært’s setting of  this sequence hymn for The Annunciation, the text of which is by Abelard was published in Venice in 1559 as part of his "Musica Nova" – the newness in this case refers to the fact that these motets had never been published before. It’s a calm and beautifully harmonised setting whose restrained…

Jacquet de Mantua (1483 -1559): O pulcherrima inter mulieres

This three-part (SSA) motet is one of a collection of motets entitled Motetta trium vocum for three voices  by several composers1 including Jacquet de Mantua published in Venice in 1543 by Antonio Gardano. It’s a bitter-sweet setting whose text using imagery from the Song of Songs reflects the emotional anguish that can be caused by…

Jacquet de Mantua (1483 -1559): Aspice Domine

Jacques Colebault or Jacquet de Mantua as he became known was a prolific French composer who spent most of his life in Italy serving the Church. Musically he’s important first as one of the leading composers in the period between Josquin and Palestrina and secondly because he was enormously influential. Amongst his patrons were the…

Jean Mouton (±1459–1522): Per lignum Salvi

Mouton is mostly remembered today as as Willaert’s teacher but his music is well worth listening to in its own right. He started out as a chorister in Nesle but rose to be master of the child choristers at Amiens Cathedral by 1500. He was rescued from provincial obscurity by being taken up by Anne…

Feature: Mouton & Morales — Quæramus cum pastoribus

Mouton’s beautiful Christmastide motet ‘Quæramus cum pastoribus’ – the name comes from its first line ‘Quæramus cum pastoribus verbum incarnatum‘ (Let us, with the shepherds, seek the incarnate word) was a wildly popular piece of music that spread like wildfire throughout Catholic Christendom, there are copies of it to be found in churches and cathedrals…