Matthaeus Pipelare ( ±1450 – ±1515): Missa L’homme Armé

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June 21, 2015

Matthaeus Pipelare was a southern Netherlandish composer who flourished in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. I can tell you almost nothing about his life because the only thing about him that is known for certain is that he was active in Antwerp but left there in the spring of 1498 until about 1 May 1500 to take up the prestigious and well-paid post of Master of the Choristers for the Confraternity of Our Lady at the Cathedral of St. John in 's-Hertogenbosch. Not much of his work survives but that which does survive is widespread being found in no less than sixty sources located in libraries from Russia to Spain to Italy. It's of such superb quality and so engaging for performer and listener alike that it's easy to see why his contemporaries ranked him alongside Josquin, la Rue, Brumel, and Isaac.

The Missa ‘L'homme armé’ which you can hear below is in some ways quite typical of Flemish musical writing of the time in its complexity, sonority, and extensive use of lower voices including what we now call basso profundo. It's scored for Altus (high tenor), baritone, bass, and basso profundo and makes extensive use of its cantus firmus "L'homme Armé"which Pipelar makes use of throughout the Mass starting in the Kyrie where it appears in all the voices. It's a technically very demanding work clearly intended for performance by a top-class professional choir in which syncopation, faux-bourdon, canonical writing, imitation, homophony, and polyphony all make their appearance. Notwithstanding its musical variety Pipelare's Missa "L'homme Armé" has a tightly integrated feel and a considerable sense of forward motion I'm not surprised it wound up as part of the Sistine Chapel's repertoire. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (±1525-1594): Veni Creator Spiritus

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June 20, 2015

This hymn is very old being generally held to have been composed by Rabanus Maurus in the ninth century. It's the hymn prescribed for second Vespers on Whit Sunday and is also used at any ritual invoking the Holy Spirit such as ordinations and consecrations. Palestrina's setting was published in 1589 by Angelo Gardano1 it's a four-part setting (SATB) with the exception the doxology which is SATTB. It's an alternatim setting – verses of chant and polyphony alternate, the polyphony is particularly beautiful, I've never understood why it's not far better known. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Derelinquat impius

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June 19, 2015

Derelinquat impius (May the unrighteous) takes its text from Isaiah and was the fifth Respond at Matins on the First Sunday in Lent. Andrew Carwood describes it as "surprising and unsettling because of the peregrinations of the opening bars" with some "eyebrow-raising melodic moments".  But surely that was the entire point? Tallis rarely, very rarely, engaged in word-painting but surely if ever there was a text that justified him engaging in it then Isaiah 55–7 is that text. The melody is wayward it wanders, and each voice enters at a surprising note all of this depicting the sinner's inability to find his way and his need to revertatur ad Dominum (turn again to the Lord). Tallis varies the texture and introduces some "special effects" such as the leap upward at misericors to represent the heart's leap of joy at the prospect of God's mercy. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Heinrich Schütz (1585–1672): Ich bin die Auferstehung und das Leben SWV 464

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June 18, 2015

Schütz composed this funeral motet for the funeral of the organist Colander in 1620.

mfi

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Victoria – Ne timeas, Maria (Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral Choir, 2015) – YouTube

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June 17, 2015
Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral

De Victoria's setting of the anti­phon for the Second Vesp­ers of the An­nun­cia­tion to the Bles­sed Vir­gin Mary sung here by the Choir of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral during a live broadcast on the BBC March 25th 2015. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Giovanni Paolo Cima (1570- 1630): Adiuro vos, filiae Hierusalem

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June 16, 2015

This lovely solo motet was published in the Concerti ecclesiastici of 1610 it takes its text from the Song of Songs and with its vocal ornamentation is a fine example of Cima's use of secular models. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Alonso Lobo (1555-1617): Vivo ego, dicit Dominus

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June 15, 2015

Photo:  Detail Choir Seville Cathedral Photo Credit: adley-Ives computer desktops

Photo: Detail Choir Seville Cathedral
Photo Credit: Hadley-Ives computer desktops

Alonso Lobo (not to be confused with the Portugese composer Duarte Lôbo) was a native of the province of Seville and spent most of his professional life there. He was born in Osuna in 1555 and at the age of eleven became a choirboy in Seville's Cathedral, he studied music at Osuna University taking the degree of licenciado. He was appointed chapter secretary to the university's collegiate church 1581 and five years later was made the collegiate church's canon. After a further five years in Osuna he took up a post in Seville Cathedral assisting the aging Francisco Guerero six months into that appointment Guerrero took a leave of absence and Lobo was invited to direct the choir in his absence he remained there . In September 1593 he was appointed maestro de capilla of Toledo Cathedral but returned to Seville  in March 1604 to take up a similar post in Seville's Cathedral. He was greatly respected by his contemporaries including by Victoria himself who considered him as his equal. In 1602 he published a set of seven extra-liturgical motets under the title Moteta ex devotione inter missarum solemnia decantanda one of which Vivo ego, dicit Dominus (As I live, says the Lord) is the subject of this posting. It's a four-part setting whose Lenten text lends itself well to the motet's contemplative atmosphere. Lobo maintains this atmosphere until we come to the text's ending  "sed ut magis convertatur, et vivat" (but rather that he repents, and lives) when he introduces a glorious soaring motif at "et vivat" to represent the eternal life of the sinner who repents and turns to God. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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BBC Documentary – the Genius of the Monteverdi’s Vespers (HD) – YouTube

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June 14, 2015

One of the superb series of documentaries featuring Simon Russell Beale, with The Sixteen, and Harry Christophers. Enjoy :-)
mfi

BBC Documentary talks about Monteverdi's Vespers and about his relationship with the Duke of Mantua, 4th April 2015.

… … …

Simon Russell Beale travels to Italy to explore the story of the notorious Duke of Mantua and his long-suffering court composer Claudio Monteverdi during the turbulent times of the late Italian Renaissance. Out of the volatile relationship between the duke and the composer came Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610, a major turning point in western music. The Sixteen, led by Harry Christophers, explore some of the radical and beautiful choral music in this dramatic composition.

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Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): O Salutaris hostia

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June 13, 2015

Photo: Winchester Cathedral Interior detail, Byzantine Style Icons on the western screen of the retro-choir.  Artist:  Sergei Fyodorof. Date: 1992-96.

Photo: Winchester Cathedral Interior detail, Byzantine Style Icons on the western screen of the retro-choir.
Artist: Sergei Fyodorof. Date: 1992-96.

The text to O salutaris hostia comes from the rite of Benediction, Tallis' setting is freely composed – it's completely original with no basis in the chant or other material. It's a bit unusual in that while its scoring (SATBarB) would lead you to suspect that it's pre-Reformation it's style is very definitely later than that it could date from either of the  reigns of Mary or Elizabeth I. It's a wonderful example of just how skilled Tallis was at taking short and very simple melodic elements and transforming them into substantial works of music. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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William Byrd (±1539-1623): Deo gratias

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June 12, 2015

This four-part setting of Deo Gratias was published in the 1605 Gradualia. In his notes Andrew Carwood describes it as 'tiny' and so it is. Tiny, but very useful as it could be used on so many occasions and is also very beautiful. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Philip Stopford (born 1977): O How Glorious Stopford Northampton – YouTube

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June 11, 2015

I'm a fan of the English composer Philip Stopford's music and keep an eye on his YouTube channel I like this setting of the antiphon for All Saints a lot. Is it just me or is there a nod to Harwood here? Enjoy :-)

mfi

The Choir of St Matthew's Northampton perform the piece they commissioned, O How Glorious Is The Kingdom, First performed at the church in 2014.

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Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611): Veni Creator Spiritus

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June 10, 2015

Veni Creator Spiritus (Come Creator Spirit) is a hymn prescribed for second Vespers on Whit Sunday it's very old dating to at least the eight century and is attributed to Rabanus Maurus (776-856) and is now sung at Vespers, Pentecost, Dedication of  Churches and Chapels, Confirmation, Ordination of priests and bishops and any other liturgical occasion on which the Holy Spirit is solemnly invoked. Victoria's four-part setting was published by Zanetti in Rome in 1581. It's an alternatim setting that begins with the chant melody and which uses the slightly decorated  and augmented chant melody as a cantus firmus in the polyphonic sections. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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