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Philippe Verdelot (±1480-±1530): Ultimi miei sospiri

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July 27, 2015

Perhaps because a collection of his madrigals was the first ever printed Philippe Verdelot is considered by some as the inventor of the madrigal. I'm not sure I'd go quite that far but  he was certainly the early 16th century's  most important and innovative composer of Italian madrigals. He was born in France but his career was in Italy and included such important posts as maestro di cappella at the Baptistry of S. Maria del Fiore and Florence's Duomo. (A good short biography of him by Donato Mancini can be found  here – mfi). His madrigal Ultimi miei sospiri is not only a delightfully expressive piece of music but also a very good example of how innovative Verdelot was. It's in six parts, which was an innovation in and of itself, and is full of contrasting textures between the voices, Verdelot also makes use of tessitura for example at 'Dite, o beltà infinita' (Speak, O infinite beauty) where he marks the change from narration to interlocution by using the highest pitch yet heard in the piece. It rapidly became famous and was used by De Monte as the basis for his setting of the Mass Missa Ultimi miei sospiri. Enjoy :-).

mfi

Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

The Benefits of Singing in a Choir – Professor Paul Welch – YouTube

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July 26, 2015

The benefits of singing in a choir are many and various. In particular, there are positive physical outcomes and mental health benefits.

These are related to improved cardiovascular fitness (including lung function), as well as improved mood and general alertness, often allied to a feeling of being spiritually uplifted. Because singing involves many different areas of the brain acting in concert, there are often associated cognitive benefits, such as improvements in children’s reading ability that are linked to increased auditory discrimination that supports phonological development.

There are also social and psychosocial benefits, as singing in a collective can improve participants’ sense of belonging and of being socially included by engendering a positive sense of community. Benefits are available across the lifespan and are indicated pre-birth in the final months of foetal life. At the other end of the lifespan, singing can bring a stronger and more positive sense of identity in a context where there is often a sense of loss of control due to the challenges of aging. There are also musical and cultural benefits as participants gain skills, knowledge and understanding of the nature and place of music in their lives and the lives of others.

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Danny Boy a cappella – Libera live from Guildford Cathedral – 2015 – YouTube

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July 25, 2015

How about we start the weekend with some of Libera's always excellent singing? Enjoy :-)
mfi Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

Guillaume de Machaut (±1300-1377): Inviolata Genitrix

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July 24, 2015

Historiated initial accompanying hymns to  the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Source: Compendium morale of Roger de Waltham (d. 1336).  Unknown artist. Location: University of Glasgow Library.

Historiated initial accompanying hymns to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Source: Compendium morale of Roger de Waltham (d. 1336).
Unknown artist.
Location: University of Glasgow Library.

Guillaume de Machaut continues to be acknowledged to this day as the most significant French poet and composer of the fourteenth century [I wrote about him here: Sunday Feature: Guillaume de Machaut (c1300-1377): – Messe de Nostre Dame – Ensemble Gilles Binchois dir. D. Vellard | Saturday Chorale – mfi]. He was both a poet and a musician and it's no exaggeration to say that he dominated French poetry and music for several generations after his death. His four-part setting of the Marian motet Inviolata Genetrix (Virgin mother) is a typical Marian intercessionary motet of its period in which the Virgin, who was seen as a more approachable figure than Christ, is asked to protect her devotees to intercede for them in the dire straits in which they find themselves:

"help us decisively
for we perish,
we are violently attacked
but are feebly defended,"

(The reference is to the ravages of the 100 years war). It's an unusual piece of music that sounds very unfamiliar to modern ears but which repays the effort made. It's also unusual amongst Machaut's motets firstly because it is a four-part setting (motetus, triplem, contratenor and tenor) with contratenor and tenor singing the same text, and secondly because it's in Latin and Machaut set mostly French secular texts. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Henri Dumont (±1610 – 1684): Panis Angelicus

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July 23, 2015

Du Mont was born near Liège in what is now Belgium he was educated at the Jesuit college and  the choir school of Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk in Maastricht but spent most of his life in France where, from 1660 on he filled a variety of posts at the court serving in turn the King's brother, queen Marie-Thérèse, and ultimately Louis XIV himself as sous-maître  of the Chapelle-Royale where he remained until 1683. He's mostly remembered for his motets in particular his grands motets of which more than eighty survive. But he could also write very beautiful and very intimate petits motets as his setting of the last two verses of  Sacris Solemnis which you can hear below shows. Enjoy :-).

mfi

Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

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