What a Wonderful World – Libera

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February 7, 2015

Gaetano Veneziano (1665-1716): Iste confessor

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February 6, 2015

Gaetano Veneziano was one of Provenzale's students who rose to become one of the most sought after maestri in early 18th century Naples. His setting of Iste confessor is very typical of Neapolitan religious music of the time both in its configuration (two voices and four violins) and in its whirling and swirling structure. The soloists in the performance below are Valentina Varriale (soprano) and Filippo Mineccia (countertenor). Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Laurence Kilsby Panis Angelicus

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February 5, 2015

The incomparable Laurence Kilsby. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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William Byrd (±1539-1623): Aspice, Domine quia facta est

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February 4, 2015

Byrd's  of the Matins Respond for November was published in the 1575 Cantiones Sacræ. The text is from The Lamentations and it's a six-part setting for divided tenors and means that clearly shows Ferrabosco's influence in its Italianate structure of lengthy imitative writing followed by very brief homophonic passages. The effect is quite dark but very beautiful. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

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Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707): Wenn ich, Herr Jesu, habe dich (BuxWV 102)

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February 3, 2015

The text of Wenn ich, Herr Jesu, habe dich(BuxWV 102) (If I have you Lord Jesus) is a devotional poetic text by Anna Sophia, Countess of Hessen-Darmstadt Buxtehude set it twice once here, as a hymn, and then again as part of his cantata Herr, wenn ich nur dich habe (BuxWV 39) .  The hymn (BuxWV 102), which is the subject of this posting is one of a number of arias that Buxtehude wrote whose texts he took from  seventeenth-century hymnals. The hymns as originally found were in a very simple style, and this very simplicity must have been part of what attracted Buxtehude to them as it meant they provided him with material that was known and loved by his audiences while simultaneously providing him with an almost clear musical canvas on which to work his musical magic. His scoring for this aria calls for two violins in addition to alto and basso continuo and the structure is interesting. There's an introductory sinfonia, the strophe, and a a ritornello at the end of each strophe. So far so  unsurprising, the text is in the hymnals strictly strophic, and Buxtehude retained this strict strophic form which he then proceeded to adapt and ornament by disrupting the text's flow with repetitions and melismas the effect is both charming and devout and must have greatly pleased his audiences. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Quod chorus vatum

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February 2, 2015

Tallis' setting of Rabanus Maurus' (776-856) text Quod chorus vatum sung here by the Chapelle du Roi under Alistair Dixon. Quod chorus vatum is the Hymn at Vespers on the Feast of the Purification (Candlemas) which falls on February 2nd.  Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

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Mendelssohn: Symphony Nº 2, ‘Lobgesang’ – Live Concert HD

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February 1, 2015

Mendelssohn composed this symphony-cantata for orchestra and chorus in response to a commission from the organisers of the 1840 celebrations commemorating the 400th anniversary of Gutenberg's invention of the printing press. Its title "Lobgesang" which you can translate variously as "Hymn of Praise" or "Song of Praise" reflects its hybrid structure of three movements scored for orchestra alone, playing as a sinfonia prelude to final movement which is a choral cantata.

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Comfort Ye, Every Valley – David Cizner Treble – YouTube

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January 31, 2015

The Czech treble David Cizner  rehearsing Comfort Ye and Every Valley prior to recording a new CD. He's a treble whose voice and singing I like and he plainly works hard to develop both, when you remember that this is a rehearsal it's even more impressive. Enjoy :-)

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Adrian Willaert (±1490-1562): Saluto te sancta virgo

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January 30, 2015

Adrian Willaert's four-part motet Saluto te sancta virgo must have made quite an impression on his contemporaries because it can be found in a number of sources not the least of which is the Medici Codex, a collection of 53 motets compiled for Pope Leo X (the first Medici pope) and presented by him as a wedding gift to his nephew Lorenzo de' Medici, Duke of Urbino, when the latter returned to Italy from France with his new bride Madeleine de la Tour d’Auvergne in 1518. Its composed in a symmetrical style that owes much to Mouton's music although unlike Mouton Willaert moves the statement and answer around rather than in a predictable succession as  Mouton would have done and unlike Mouton introduces changes to the imitative structure in the motet's second leading to new and interesting harmonics. It's a sophisticated piece of music calling for a certain amount of virtuosity on the part of those singing it as well as being a fervent and beautiful Marian motet. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Jacobus Clemens non Papa (±1510 – ± 1555): Tristitia obsedit me

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January 29, 2015

Girolamo SavonarolaThe text of this motet Tristitia obsedit me is based on Savanarola's unfinished meditation on Psalm 31. Savanarola ran foul of the Pope and Florence's rulers, was arrested, tortured, and condemned to death. While awaiting execution he composed two meditations on the Psalms. Infelix Ego a meditation on Psalm 51 and this one which Savanarola didn't manage to finish. Both were published after his death and their affirmation of faith following torture and in the face of imminent death along with his other writings were hugely influential throughout Europe.  In his setting Clemens non Papa took  Savanarola's text and condensed and conflated it to create a motet with two distinct sections. The first deals with Savanarola's despair while the second treats of his return to faith and hope and his appeal to God for mercy and forgiveness. Even allowing for the changes he made it must have been a difficult task to set the text but Clemens non Papa succeeded brilliantly by making heavy use of closely spaced imitative repetition to produce a vivid and remarkably fervent piece of music. The effect on his contemporaries – who would have been well aware of the text's religious and political import, must have been stunning. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Wednesday Earwig: Boys’ Choir St. Petersburg — The Lion sleeps Tonight

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January 28, 2015

Sung with great verve at as you might expect from this superb Russian choir. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Christian Ludwig Boxberg (1670-1729): Bestelle Dein Haus

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January 27, 2015

Boxberg isn't terribly well known today and this is one of the few pieces of his music that's been recorded. He was born on April 24th 1670 in Sondershausen´and was a student under Johann Schelle at Leipzig's Thomasschule between 1682 and 1686. He had a solid rather than a spectacular career with a ten year stint as organist in Grossenhain, (north of Dresden) between 1692 and 1702. He had two musical careers a religious one and a secular one, the secular being defined by his association with Leipzig where he studied under the Leipzig Opera's director Nikolaus A. Strungk for four years between 1688 and 1692 as well being active as a singer, librettist, and composer of operas in his own right. He was evidently well thought of as a composer because his operas were performed at the court of Ansbach. However he renounced his operatic career in 1702 to take up an appointment as  organist at the church of Ss Peter und Paul in Görlitz where he remained until his death twenty-seven years later. While in Görlitz he wrote a number of cantatas  in a variety of forms including both choral works and solo cantatas for soprano and trio sonata accompaniment.

Bestelle Dein Haus (Set thy house in order) is a funerary cantata, I don't know whether it was written for a particular occasion or for general use, it's an interesting and worthwhile piece of music that makes good use of the chorale. The text makes use of Isaiah 38:1 and Psalm 39:4. If in places it's reminiscent of the Actus Tragicus that's because Bach made made use of the same texts and the same musical rhetoric. (He was also by no means averse to quoting other composers). But the approach Boxberg adopted is on the whole very different from Bach's. For a start Isaiah's injunction to "set thy house in order" comes before the psalmic commentary which Boxberg develops further by combining it with a somewhat terse movement that contrasts the bass with the choir (Herr, lehre doch mich … (psalm 39)).  In fact terseness is perhaps the defining characteristic of this cantata – Boxberg made use of the musical rhetoric expected in a funerary cantata such as the tremolo repeated notes on the stringed instruments which in baroque sacred music by convention represents the Christian soul's dread of condemnation and awe of God. He made use of it and it's a competent piece of music that repays the time spent listening and helps place Bach's music in perspective of the music of his time. Bach took up where Boxberg left off and in BWV 106 brought the rhetoric to as close to musical perfection as we're likely to hear in this life.

markfromireland

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