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Domenico Zipoli (1688-1726): Sacris Solemnis

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February 20, 2015

Zipoli was an Italian Jesuit who hailed originally from Prato. He was one several excellent musicians recruited by the order for their missions to the New World. He entered the Society of Jesus, in the middle of 1716 and on April 5th 1717, he left as a member of an expedition organized by the Jesuits, to the Río de la Plata. On his arrival in Buenos Aires he was sent to the Jesuit monastery in Córdoba where he continued his theological studies, and composed music which was distributed by messenger throughout the Jesuit missions in particular the 30 villages that were part of the Reductions. His career was very short – he died of Tuberculosis on January 2nd 1726 but during those eight years he composed a huge amount of music little of which has survived until our time because of the destruction of Jesuit materials during the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767.  His setting for soloists, chorus, violin & continuo of St. Thomas Aquinas' hymn Sacris Solemnis is a delightfully clear somewhat operatic setting of the hymn in which soloists and choir alternate. You can hear below performed wonderfully well by Affetti Musicali and the Boys Choir of Cordoba conducted by Gabriel Garrido. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Andreas Hammerschmidt (1612-1675): Sonata super: Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren

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February 19, 2015

Hammerschmidt was an organist and composer who survived the hardships caused by the Thirty Years War to become a wealthy and successful man admired and respected by his contemporaries – Schütz and Rist both wrote poems lauding him and his music. He was a prolific composer mostly of sacred vocal and choral music publishing more than 400 such works in 14 collections. Most of his works are concertatos and he himself classified his works as either motets, concertos or arias. There's a strong Italianate tinge to much of  his music which as he never travelled to Italy I suspect he got from Schütz. That being said it would be a mistake to write him off as "school of" his music may have been influenced by the Italians and by Schütz but he was a vigorous and original composer with a distinctive musical voice of his own. The present work his Sonata super: Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren is very Italianate it could be inspired by Schütz but I think it more likely that it takes its inspiration directly from Monteverdi's Sonata sopra Sancta Maria ora pro nobis. Whichever is the case it's a beautiful setting of the first two verses Johann Gramann's hymn paraphrasing Psalm 102  (103) in its own right. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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John Taverner (±1490—1545): O splendor gloriae

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February 18, 2015

Taverner's Jesus antiphon O splendor gloriae probably dates from Taverner's later years in Boston and was most likely a commission from the Boston Guild of Corpus Christi, to Taverner he belonged. It's composed on a very grand scale but the scale in no way detracts from the clarity of its texture. Taverner made heavy use of imitation when he was writing it and also  made use of repetition in the latter part of the piece. In doing so he was further laying the groundwork for English sacred music to move away from the abstract melismatic style that still prevailed towards a more modern direct expressiveness that reflected the text. It represents a move away from medievalism to a renaissance sensibility. All of this is within a very English structure that exploits the high tessitura treble to maximum effect. If ever there was a work that testifies to the extraordinarily high standards of pre-reformation English choristers that Taverner and his fellow composers could take for granted this is it. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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James MacMillan (b1959): Miserere

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February 17, 2015

James MacMillan's glorious setting of  Psalm 50 (51)or The Miserere as it's more often called was commissioned by the Flanders Festival Antwerp for the 2009 Laus Polyphoniae Festival and received its first performance at a concert given in the Carolus-Borromeuskerk, Antwerp, by The Sixteen conducted by Harry Christophers. It's an eight part setting and while it does make some allusions to Allegri's setting its scope is far far greater than that of Allegri's work. The more I hear it the more I like it and I can't make up my mind what aspect of the work I like and admire more. Whether it's the opening homophony for the lower voices or the way in which MacMillan contrasts that homophony with the lengthy improvisatio or how he uses the chant or the magnificent climax I find all of them stunningly good. I hope you'll enjoy listening as much as I do.

mfi

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PhilipStopford: My servant shall be healed – Premiere

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February 16, 2015

Premiere performance of My Servant Shall Be Healed, November 1, 2014, Grace Cathedral San Francisco, The Grace Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys and the Pacific Boychoir Academy, Oakland, CA, under the direction of Kevin Fox, Vocal Score: Philip WJ Stopford, Lyrics Arranged by Paul Anthony Martin, OStJ,, Petaluma CA, Commissioned by the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem Priory in the United States of America for the Fifty-Fourth Service of Rededication; a choral meditation on the mission of the Order of St John and reflection of the cross.

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