Cristóbal de Morales (±1500-1553): Beati omnes qui timent Dominum

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April 5, 2014

The first time I heard this I had to check who it was by. It certainly didn't sound like something by Cristóbal de Morales to me. This piece is downright cheerful and de Morales' music is generally somewhat more … severe. It's a delightfully sunny piece who six-part structure is occasionally punctuated by bursts of something that closely resembles, but isn't quite, homophony. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

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Manuel Cardoso (1566-1650): Sitivit anima mea

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April 4, 2014

A native of Fronteira Cardoso was sent to Évora 'to study Grammar and the art of Music' under Father Cosme Delgado and Father Manuel Mendes once he had reached the age of nine. He must have greatly pleased his teachers because his career is one of rapid progression from prestigious post to prestigious post including that of music teacher to the future King João IV. His motet Sitivit anima mea (My soul thirsts) was published in 1625 in a collection of Masses. It's written in a contrapuntal style that shows Palestrina's influence mixed with a very personal – and profound, sense of harmony.

markfromireland

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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Salve regina RV616

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April 3, 2014

vivaldi150x150vignetteIn some ways this setting of the Salve is very similar to Vivaldi’s G minor setting (RV618). Both settings are for an alto soloist, Vivaldi divided his strings between two cori and made use of woodwind obbligato instruments in each, and both have a a six-movement structure. So much for the similarities – the differences are quite as important. The most important of these differences is that the vocal part in this setting is both higher and far more flamboyant than that of the G minor setting.

It dates from sometime around 1730 and given that Vivaldi refers to  'la cantante' in the instructions he must have composed for performance in the Ospedale della Pietà although quite why he would have done so at a time when Giovanni Porta was the Pietà's  maestro di coro is something of a mystery.

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Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla (±1590 – 1664): Deus in adiutorium

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April 2, 2014

Deus in adiutorium is an introductory versicles intended to be sung during various Offices. It's a cry to God for help from the faithful and De Padilla's setting, a simple plainsong intonation, is very typical of the use to which plainsong was put in Spain and its colonies at the time.

markfromireland

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Thomas Weelkes (1576–1623): Laboravi in gemitu meo

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April 1, 2014

Until fairly recently music scholars believed that this setting of the sixth verse from Psalm six was was Weelkes' only Latin motet. It's a penitential motet whose structure owes much to Thomas Morley's setting of the same text. Thus you can hear several motifs in each phrase of the text. The result is an impressively expansive piece of music that makes very telling use of dissonance. It's sung to great effect below by the Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum directed by Benjamin Nicholas.

markfromireland

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Felix Mendelssohn (1809–1847): I Waited For The Lord

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March 31, 2014

Mendelssohn's 'I Waited For The Lord' performed by the Maîtrise de l'Académie Vocale de Paris, soloists Morgane Collomb & Laura Jarrell – sopranos, conductor Julien Godawatta, Iain SImcock, organist. The performance was given on June 11th 2011 at l'Église Saint Merry.

markfromireland

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4th Sunday of Lent 2014 Robert Fayrfax (1464-1521): Maria plena virtutate

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March 30, 2014

Of all Fayrfax's works his meditation on the Passion "Maria plena virtute" (Mary full of virtue) is the one that I find the most moving.

markfromireland

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Siegfried Strohbach (born 1929) : Jesus, der Retter im Sturm – YouTube

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March 29, 2014

The boys of the Lübecker Knabenkantorei conducted by Marienkantor Michael D. Müller singing Strohbach's Gospel motet "Jesus, der Retter im Seesturm" (Jesus, the saviour in the storm on the lake) in a performance given on October 16th 2011  in Regensburg's Neupfarrkirche. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

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Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): In manus tuas

2
March 28, 2014

Tallis' setting of the Compline respond is quite typical of his Elizabethan Latin Church music, it's beguiling in its simplicity and its beauty. Tallis' solution of what to do with this piece that could not be performed liturgically was elegant – he turned it into a motet.

markfromireland

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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): In exitu Israel RV604

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March 27, 2014

This Psalm (113 in the Vulgate and 114 combined with 115 in Protestant bibles) has alway been something of a nightmare for composers. Even if you forget all about the two verses of the doxology you're still left with the problem of how to maintain musical momentum and interest through twenty-seven verses. Vivaldi's setting dates from 1739 which means it's one of a group of psalms he wrote for Easter Sunday at the Pietà in 1739. It's a pleasant piece in which he does actually manage to keep things going nice by dint of varying the patterns of the violin accompaniment, changing the key in which the psalm is sung, and varying the vocal texture as far as possible  within the bounds of the homophonic vocal structure he employed. He also makes use of a responsorial style in which the soprano soloists are answered by the full choir.  Despite all these it's a very simple piece – in fact its simplicity is a large part of its charm. It's sung below by 'Vivaldi's Women' the British all-woman ensemble dedicated to performing Vivaldi's music as he himself would have expected to hear it. (I wrote about this group on October 23, 2011 and if you haven't already seen the fascinating documentary about their work I urge you strongly to do so – you can see it here: Sunday Playlist: Vivaldi and the women of the Pieta – Vivaldi’s Women | Saturday Chorale).

markfromireland

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Francisco de Peñalosa (c1470-1528): Ne reminiscaris, Domine,

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March 26, 2014

Francisco de Peñalosa's starkly beautiful penitential motet Ne reminiscaris, Domine.

markfromireland

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John Sheppard (c1515–December 1558): Media Vita

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March 25, 2014

Sheppard's music is not as popular as that of his contemporaries – I think this is a shame as he's right up there alongside his better-known contemporaries Taverner, Tye, White, and even Tallis. If you want to hear Tudor era music of breathtaking beauty and originality then Sheppard's compositions surely fit the bill. Media Vita is his undoubted masterpiece its sheer breadth of phrasing and expressiveness coupled with stunning sonorities and a remarkably deft hand with dissonance always stops me in my tracks. It's been recorded a few times – I think the most recent recording is by Stile Antico, but the recording below was the first and the one I find that I come back to time and time again.

markfromireland

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