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markfromireland

John Sheppard (±1515-1558): Gaude, gaude, gaude Maria

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August 19, 2015

We know very little about Sheppard's life (and much of what we 'knew' turns out to be wrong) but his contemporaries and later generations of musicians fully recognised his importance more than 40 years after his death Thomas Morley praised his music.  His Latin works mostly date from the reigns of Henry VII and Mary I with Gaude, gaude, gaude Maria most likely dating from sometime in Mary's reign. It's a setting of the Respond and Prose at Second Vespers at Candlemas and it takes the chant as its cantus firmus. It's very densely written with some gloriously elaborate counterpoint weaving its sinuous way around the cantus firmus. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Edward Elgar (1857-1934): Great is the Lord Op 67

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August 18, 2015

imageElgar started 'Great is the Lord' in 1910 it's an adaptation of Psalm 47 and is fairly popular now but at the time he was composing it, perhaps because there was no patron to commission it in sight, it was doubtful that Elgar would even complete it. It took him two years working in fits and starts but on  July 16th 1912 it received its first performance with organ accompaniment at Westminster Abbey with  Sir Frederick Bridge conducting – the success of this outing led it being orchestrated in September 1913. Structurally it's not particularly complex, Elgar divided it up into sections each of which introduces new material, it opens with the the altos, tenors and basses in unison but changes thereafter to being in two parts with some passages in block harmony. There's a wonderful bass solo at 'We have thought on Thy loving-kindness, O God' the anthem ends with rich choral writing that reminds me more than somewhat of his oratorios. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Sebastián de Vivanco – Assumpsit Iesus Petrum – YouTube

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August 17, 2015

Sebastián de Vivanco (Ávila, 1551 - Salamanca, 1622)
Intérpretes/Performers: Música Reservata de Barcelona (dir: Bruno Turner)

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Feature: Martín de Rivaflecha (1470-1528): – Anima mea

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August 16, 2015

Photo: Palencia Cathedral  Chancel altarpiece with panels painted by Juan de Flandes (John of Flanders) a Netherlandish painter who was active in Spain between 1496 and1519 and rose to be court painter to Queen Isabella of Spain.

Photo: Palencia Cathedral
Chancel altarpiece with panels painted by Juan de Flandes (John of Flanders) a Netherlandish painter who was active in Spain between 1496 and1519 and rose to be court painter to Queen Isabella of Spain.

Martín de Rivaflecha (1470-1528) was born in Palencia in the northern part of northwest Spain. I haven't been able to find out anything about his early life or where he trained but Grove informs me that he was appointed cantor and master of the choirboys at Palencia Cathedral  on December 5th 1503 and that prior to that he he was already a clergyman in the diocese of S Domingo de la Calzada. Eight years after he was appointed he was admonished for not properly clothing and feeding the six choirboys in his charge which given that this was counter-reformation Spain must mean that they were close to starvation. It doesn't seem to have done his career all that much harm because he was granted a very lucrative chaplaincy in December of 1518 that only lasted until 1521 when he was replaced by García de Basurto  who presumably moved to Palencia from Tarazon to replace him. Rivafrecha took up his former post as maestro de capilla at Palencia Cathedral in January 1525 "but was so inept that on 30 March that year Diego de Castillo was appointed to replace him". All of these ups and downs suggest to me that he was fairly well connected and that there were factions within Palencia's senior clergy some of who wanted to get rid of him and some of whom wanted to retain his services. As a musician if not as a clergyman or a cathedral bureaucrat he was well-thought-of, Cristóbal de Villalón said that only Francisco de Peñalosa outranked him amongst Spanish composers of the time. High praise indeed. His four-part motet Anima mea liquefacta est takes its text from the Song of Songs and has a quite unusual treatment of fermata chords[1. Fermata chords are chords whose prolongation is indicated by the corona or point surmounted by a semicircle at the end of the phrase – mfi) with which he ends on the tonic, dominant and subdominant chords in succession. It's a piece of music that more than repays the effort of listening and is subject to differing interpretations, to that end I include two performances below the first by the Choir of Jesus College Cambridge and the second by the Escolania de Montserrat Enjoy :-).

mfi

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The Georgia Boy Choir – Bridge Over Troubled Water – YouTube

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August 15, 2015

Let's have an earwig. This is the always excellent Georgia Boy Choir singing Paul Simon's Bridge Over Troubled Water at the Voices of Spring concert at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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