Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791): Lacrimosa (K626) – Connor Burrowes

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March 18, 2015

I've no idea how many performances of the Lacrimosa from Mozart's Requiem K626 that I've heard over the years – a lot. But some performances of it stand out in my mind, one of those performances is this one by Connor Burrowes on the Boys Air Choir album "Requiem". Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Robert Ramsey (fl c1612-1644): In monte Oliveti

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March 17, 2015

Ramsey's madrigal-anthem probably dates from around 1615 and was written for private devotions rather than the liturgy. It's a six-part setting that with its harmonic tensions, repetitions, and use of declamation and and dissonance can sound surprisingly modern to our ears. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Libera: ‘Wayfaring Stranger’

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March 16, 2015

From a live concert recording made at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC in the USA.

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Jean GILLES (1668-1705): Messe des Morts – Requiem

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March 15, 2015

Jean Gilles and his music are not now well-known but during his lifetime he was well thought of. His requiem which was composed either in 1704 or 1705 was at one time one of the most admired pieces of music in France. It held sway fro two generations and was performed at the funerals of the great and the famous amongst them Rameau and King Louis XV.  We think of Requiems as dealing with dread and fear – think of Mozart's Dies iræ or Verdi's setting of the Requiem or Berlioz's come to that so Gilles' sometimes jaunty, sometimes cheerful, and sometimes downright sunny setting can come as something of a shock.

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Alfonso Ferrabosco The Younger (1572-1628): Four Note (Pavan) – Connor Burrowes

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March 14, 2015

This piece was one of my first encounters with Connor Burrowes' beautiful voice, the accompanists are the Amsterdam Loeki Stardust Quartet. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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William Byrd (±1539-1623): Da mihi auxilium

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March 13, 2015

This six-part (SAATTB) motet with divided tenors and baritones was published in Canciones Sacræ (1575). Its text is taken from Psalm 107 and is a plea to God for respite and aid in times of tribulation. It's quite similar in style to Domine secundum actum meum they're both Aeolian, there's the same voices, and those voices are in the same clefs, both make very sophisticated use of double imitation, and they conclude in similar ways. Both motets were clearly written as an exercise in achieving an ideal form and given the similarities between Byrd's motets and Ferrabosco's I think it's fairly clear that the exemplar for this ideal form was Ferrabosco's Domine non secundum peccata nostra. Enjoy :-)

mfi

 

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Franz Tunder (1614-1667): An Wasserflüssen Babylon

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March 12, 2015

Tunder's setting of  An Wasserflüssen Babylon (By the waters of Babylon) is one of only seventeen vocal works of his that survived.  It's a straightforward setting that uses the chorale melody in the vocal part and surrounds it with a delicate web of instrumental counterpoint that expresses the sense of loss and exile. It's a lovely piece of music, mournful without becoming maudlin, with some very fine chromatic writing at  "wir weinten" (we wept). Tunder's music was written to appeal to an audience whose taste in entertainment ran to religious music, it clearly succeeded brilliantly as the success of the Musikabend tradition which he founded and Buxtehude continued shows. Given the quality of his surviving works I think it's easy to see why his contemporaries held him and his music in such esteem.  Enjoy :-).

mfi.

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Robert White (±1538-1574): Christe qui lux es et dies (IV)

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March 11, 2015

White set the Lenten compline hymn "Christe qui lux es et dies" (O Christ who are light and day) no less than four times of which the setting which you can hear below is the fourth.  It's a very sophisticated and beautiful piece of music that follows the traditional alteratim structure with the polyphonic verses being built around the chant. It's a wonderful piece of fluid writing that makes stunning use of imitation and with a glorious quaver effect in the final verse. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Franz Josef Haydn (1732–1809): Stabat Mater

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March 10, 2015

"I set to music with all my power the highly esteemed hymn, called Stabat Mater" - Franz Josef Haydn.

Haydn's setting of the Stabat Mater is a full-scale oratorio originally scored for soloists, choir, accompanied by an orchestra of strings, oboes, and organ. Haydn composed it in 1767 six years after he entered the service of the Esterhazy family to commemorate Gregor Joseph Werner who preceded Haydn as court conductor at Esterházy and who had died the previous year.

As you can see from the date of composition it's a fairly early work that pre-dates most of his Mass settings and all of his other oratorios. Early work though it be I think that as you listen to it unfolding that it's very obvious that Haydn lavished a lot of care and attention to detail on it. He was a painstaking composer anyway but in this case he had the added incentives of wanting to show respect for his predecessor, and also of competing with Pergolesi's setting of the same text which had taken Europe by storm.

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Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Forgive me, Lord my sin

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March 9, 2015

Very little is known about this piece, we don't know when Tallis composed it, or for whom, or for what occasion. But it appears in both editions of James Clifford’s published collections of anthem texts. Clifford's collection was the "greatest hits" compilation of the time so "Forgive me, Lord my sin" must have been both very popular and widespread. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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André Campra (1660-1744): Messe de Requiem – Les Talens Lyriques, Christophe Rousset

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March 8, 2015

André Campra is another one of those baroque composers whose reputation has been overshadowed by more famous compatriots – in his case Jean-Baptiste Lully, Louis Grabu, and Jean-Philippe Rameau. It's a shame because his music is really rather wonderful. He was a highly talented and skilful composer equally at home composing operas and religious music. His requiem is wonderful with its operatic touches that serve to highlight the solemn but never sombre sincerity that is entirely suitable to the occasion. It was commissioned for a memorial service for the Archbishop of Paris and is score for a "Grand Chœur" a 2–3 voice "Petit Chœur", three soloists with instrumental accompaniment from a "Symphonie".

It's a piece of music that I love whether it's the wonderful calm forward movement of the Introitus and the way the choir comes in or the "te decet" solo and the male trio that follows it or the wonderfully operatic Kyrie with its glorious soaring soprano lines.  A sense of public theatre of a momentous occasion being acted out is very present throughout the entire Mass and first makes itself particularly felt at the Gradual which feel almost like a set piece scene complete with aria and choral sections.  The Offertory with its male voice trio and choral work is a very intense but superbly balanced piece of musical writing and is the hinge. Listen to what happens at  "ne absorbeat eas Tartarus, ne cadant in obscurum" (lest the bowels of Hell engulf them, lest they fall into darkness) the whole mood changes becoming ever darker, more dramatic, and frantic until suddenly light bursts forth and conquers the darkness at  "sed signifer sanctus Michael representet" (but let Michael, thy sacred standard-bearer) you can almost see the Archangels flaming sword banishing the darkness. The mood becomes ever lighter with the Sanctus being positively dainty and I love how Capra uses the upper voices antiphonally. I also very much like how he introduces the Hosanna using the soloist and trio before allowing the choir to cut loose. He brings us down a bit at the Agnus Dei whose contemplative mood sets the scene for the peaceful and hopeful tone of the Post-Communion.  It's performed below by Les Talens Lyriques, conducted by Christophe Rousset. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Drakensberg Boys Choir: 2015 New Boys First Song

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March 7, 2015

The new boy song of 2015 (I’M GONNA SING), as performed during the New Boys first Wednesday concert on 25 February 2015

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