Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Salvator Mundi – Hilliard Ensemble.

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August 21, 2015

There are very many recordings of Tallis' setting of Salvator Mundi the antiphon for Matins on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross but one that I come back to time and time again is this taut and elegantly sung performance by the Hilliard Ensemble. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Tölzer Knabenchor – J.S. BACH – Motet “Fürchte dich nicht” BWV 228 – YouTube

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August 20, 2015

The boys of the Tölzer Knabenchor performing Bach's motet "Fürchte dich nicht" during a Sunday Service at Johanneskirche, Bad Tölz. Organ and continuo Clemens Haudum, the treble soloists are Elias Mädler, (right choir) and Pascal Pfeiffer (left choir) the director was Christian Fliegner. Enjoy :-).
mfi Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

John Sheppard (±1515-1558): Gaude, gaude, gaude Maria

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August 19, 2015

We know very little about Sheppard's life (and much of what we 'knew' turns out to be wrong) but his contemporaries and later generations of musicians fully recognised his importance more than 40 years after his death Thomas Morley praised his music.  His Latin works mostly date from the reigns of Henry VII and Mary I with Gaude, gaude, gaude Maria most likely dating from sometime in Mary's reign. It's a setting of the Respond and Prose at Second Vespers at Candlemas and it takes the chant as its cantus firmus. It's very densely written with some gloriously elaborate counterpoint weaving its sinuous way around the cantus firmus. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Edward Elgar (1857-1934): Great is the Lord Op 67

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August 18, 2015

imageElgar started 'Great is the Lord' in 1910 it's an adaptation of Psalm 47 and is fairly popular now but at the time he was composing it, perhaps because there was no patron to commission it in sight, it was doubtful that Elgar would even complete it. It took him two years working in fits and starts but on  July 16th 1912 it received its first performance with organ accompaniment at Westminster Abbey with  Sir Frederick Bridge conducting – the success of this outing led it being orchestrated in September 1913. Structurally it's not particularly complex, Elgar divided it up into sections each of which introduces new material, it opens with the the altos, tenors and basses in unison but changes thereafter to being in two parts with some passages in block harmony. There's a wonderful bass solo at 'We have thought on Thy loving-kindness, O God' the anthem ends with rich choral writing that reminds me more than somewhat of his oratorios. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Sebastián de Vivanco – Assumpsit Iesus Petrum – YouTube

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August 17, 2015

Sebastián de Vivanco (Ávila, 1551 - Salamanca, 1622)
Intérpretes/Performers: Música Reservata de Barcelona (dir: Bruno Turner)

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Feature: Martín de Rivaflecha (1470-1528): – Anima mea

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August 16, 2015

Photo: Palencia Cathedral  Chancel altarpiece with panels painted by Juan de Flandes (John of Flanders) a Netherlandish painter who was active in Spain between 1496 and1519 and rose to be court painter to Queen Isabella of Spain.

Photo: Palencia Cathedral
Chancel altarpiece with panels painted by Juan de Flandes (John of Flanders) a Netherlandish painter who was active in Spain between 1496 and1519 and rose to be court painter to Queen Isabella of Spain.

Martín de Rivaflecha (1470-1528) was born in Palencia in the northern part of northwest Spain. I haven't been able to find out anything about his early life or where he trained but Grove informs me that he was appointed cantor and master of the choirboys at Palencia Cathedral  on December 5th 1503 and that prior to that he he was already a clergyman in the diocese of S Domingo de la Calzada. Eight years after he was appointed he was admonished for not properly clothing and feeding the six choirboys in his charge which given that this was counter-reformation Spain must mean that they were close to starvation. It doesn't seem to have done his career all that much harm because he was granted a very lucrative chaplaincy in December of 1518 that only lasted until 1521 when he was replaced by García de Basurto  who presumably moved to Palencia from Tarazon to replace him. Rivafrecha took up his former post as maestro de capilla at Palencia Cathedral in January 1525 "but was so inept that on 30 March that year Diego de Castillo was appointed to replace him". All of these ups and downs suggest to me that he was fairly well connected and that there were factions within Palencia's senior clergy some of who wanted to get rid of him and some of whom wanted to retain his services. As a musician if not as a clergyman or a cathedral bureaucrat he was well-thought-of, Cristóbal de Villalón said that only Francisco de Peñalosa outranked him amongst Spanish composers of the time. High praise indeed. His four-part motet Anima mea liquefacta est takes its text from the Song of Songs and has a quite unusual treatment of fermata chords[1. Fermata chords are chords whose prolongation is indicated by the corona or point surmounted by a semicircle at the end of the phrase – mfi) with which he ends on the tonic, dominant and subdominant chords in succession. It's a piece of music that more than repays the effort of listening and is subject to differing interpretations, to that end I include two performances below the first by the Choir of Jesus College Cambridge and the second by the Escolania de Montserrat Enjoy :-).

mfi

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The Georgia Boy Choir – Bridge Over Troubled Water – YouTube

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August 15, 2015

Let's have an earwig. This is the always excellent Georgia Boy Choir singing Paul Simon's Bridge Over Troubled Water at the Voices of Spring concert at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Richard Dering (±1580–1630): Ave Virgo gloriosa

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August 14, 2015

Like Bull and Peter Philips Dering was an English Catholic musician who chose to live abroad so that he could practice his faith. He went first to Venice and the to Rome and for at least three years (1617-1620) he held a post as organist of the convent of English nuns in Brussels and perhaps it was this post which brought him to the notice of the French and English governments for in 1625 he was appointed organist to Charles I's new bride the French Catholic Henrietta Maria he remained at the English court until his death in 1630.  His music can be divided into two categories English and Italianate – his English music is broadly comparable to that of Gibbons, Weelkes and Ward while his Italianate music such as this gracefully written five-part (SSATB) motet in honour of The Virgin is strongly influenced by contemporary Continental fashions, which in practice means that the musical fashions percolating throughout the Catholic hearlands from Italy. I certainly wouldn't place him in the same league as Bull or Peter Philips but if you take him as he is there's much to enjoy in his music. Certainly his contemporaries, including Oliver Cromwell, greatly admired his music and both Peacham and Mace included him in their lists of musical worthies.

Ave Virgo gloriosa dates from early on in his career he first published it in 1617 in his collection of motets all of which were composed in 'first city of the world' and are heavily influenced by the new Italian Baroque style. It's a fluid and simply written piece without much in the way of contrapuntal elaboration that vividly reflects its text. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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VOCES8 — Stars

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August 13, 2015

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I'm currently exploring Lux a new CD by the very talented British vocal ensemble VOCES8 whose extraordinarily broad repertoire, superb singing, and work bringing music to schools I greatly admire. (There's an article in the UK Daily Telegraph about their work with schools here: They want to teach the world to sing – Telegraph – mfi). One of the tracks on LUX is their setting of Sara Teasdale's poem Stars. Teasdale may be considered by a minor poet now but during her life her poetry was admired because of it's innate musicality and emotional expressiveness. I love this poem and how perfectly it captures the sensations and feeling of looking at the stars at night and being struck with awe at the beauty slowly unfolding before our eyes as the night progresses. Whenever I do this like Teasdale I am awed at their beauty and reminded of my own smallness and insignificance in the face of such forces, distances, and majesty.

And I know that I
Am honored to be
Witness 
Of so much majesty.

VOCES8's setting takes this already beautiful poem and makes it sing – enjoy :-).

mfi

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Guillaume Dufay (1397-1474): Veritas Mea

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August 12, 2015

Over the weekend I listened to Dufay's Missa de S Anthonii de Padua, at some point I'll have to write about this extraordinary setting of the Mass. Dufay was particularly devoted to St. Anthony of Padua and his Missa de S Anthonii de Padua is remarkable both because of its extraordinary musical diversity and beauty and because of the circumstances in which a Mass long believed lost was rediscovered. Here's the offertorium Veritas mea to whet your appetite. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Arvo Pärt (b1935): Cantate Domino canticum novum

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August 11, 2015

Arvo Pärt's setting of Psalm 95 in the Vulgate (96 in modern numbering) is set for four parts (SATB)  and organ, he wrote it in 1977 and revised it nineteen years later in 1996. Its melody is very simple and intended to evoke the same response as chant. It can be sung either by soloists or a mixed choir with the somewhat sparse organ part adding further colour to Pärt's harmonisations. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Poi che volse la mia stella (Tromboncino) Carolyn Sampson – YouTube

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August 10, 2015

Poi che volse la mia stella (Tromboncino) Carolyn SampsonPoi che volse la mia stella (barzelletta)
Bartolomeo Tromboncino (c. 1470 – c. 1535)

Carolyn Sampson, soprano
Robert Meunier, lute in A

Art in the video by Daniel Ridgway Knight (1839-1924)

Enjoy :-)
mfi Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

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