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markfromireland

Nicolas Gombert (±1495-c1560): Aspice Domine

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April 11, 2014

This is a strange and utterly devastating piece of music. It's related to one of the most infamous acts of the Renaissance – the sacking of Rome in 1527 by the troops of the Emperor Charles V. Gombert portrays the devastation wreaked upon Rome using dissonance in the first part of the piece while in the second he uses harmony to to depict God setting the world to right by encircling the city with a protecting wall.

markfromireland

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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Domine ad adiuvandum RV593

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April 10, 2014

This is one of the most perfect pieces of music that Vivaldi ever wrote.  The text is half a verse from Psalm 69 (70) as a response to the versicle with which Vespers begins 'Deus in adjutorium meum intende'. It's one of a group of large-scale double choir works that Vivaldi wrote during the 1720s. It's a brilliantly antiphonal piece of music in which Vivaldi exploits the antiphonal potential of setting a double choir against the orchestra to the hilt. The second movement, an ecstatic Gloria in E minor is followed by a doxology in which the choirs unite in a fugue that have several subjects and counter-subjects. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

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Kenneth Leighton (1929-1988): What love is this of thine

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April 8, 2014

I'm a bit ambivalent about Leighton's music. Sometimes his emphasis on lyrical melody hits the spot precisely but sometimes it leaves me cold. His setting of the Puritan clergyman Edward Taylor's poem What love is this of thine with it's calm opening and closing framing some quite dramatic singing seems to me to work very well. Enjoy :-)

markfromireland

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Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Absterge Domine

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April 7, 2014

Absterge Domine was one of Tallis' greatest hits. It's one of his 'devotional' Elizabethan Latin motets (i.e. its text is non-liturgical,) and despite the fact that it was intended for private use it appears in no less than four contrafacta as well as in the 1575 Cantiones Sacrae. It's deeply penitential with short sections some of which Tallis repeats to heighten the dramatic effect. In fact it's a very dramatic piece of music that rises and falls and uses the minor and major modes to increase the musical – and emotional, impact.

markfromireland

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5th Sunday of Lent 2014 Robert Fayrfax (1464 1521): Magnificat & Missa O bone Ihesu

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April 6, 2014

The late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries were a time of great musical innovation and achievement. One of the most important of the achievements was the development of the so-called cyclic Mass. (A cyclic Mass is a Mass setting whose components are united by a common musical theme).

Perhaps because it was in many ways a logical development of the great English tradition of the Festal Mass English composers – in particular Robert Fayrfax and Nicholas Ludford were at the forefront of this musical innovation. Missa O bone Ihesu epitomises this form of the Mass and takes it further. It is unusual amongst Fayrfax's Masses in three ways:

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Forthcoming Posts

  • Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625): ‘Drop, drop, slow tears’
  • 6th Sunday of Lent 2014: Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) The Seven Last Words of our Saviour on the Cross Op 51

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