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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Andreas de Silva (±1475– ±1530): Inviolata, integra, et casta es Maria

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June 9, 2015

Very little is known about Andreas de Silva we don't know where or when he was born or where he received his  musical training what we do know is that the Medicis were amongst those who admired his music and that Pope Leo X was one of his patrons.  Nearly forty years after his death his music was still held in such esteem that Cosimo Bartoli  described him as one of Josquin's successors "who taught the world how music should be written" while such musical luminaries as Arcadelt, Francesco Cellavenia, Lupus Italus and Palestrina all composed Masses based upon music of his.

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Alonso Lobo (1555-1617): Ave regina caelorum

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June 8, 2015

Lobo's  five-part setting of Ave regina caelorum is a musical homage to Guerrero's Ave virgo sanctissima employing the same eight beats apart strict  canon between the sopranos as its role model. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736): — Septem verba a Christo in Cruce — Akademie Für Alte Musik Berlin, René Jacobs

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June 7, 2015

Pergolesi_captioned Is this really by Pergolesi? Musicologists have argued the question for for more than a century. There's no conclusive evidence that it's by him, yes there are monastic manuscripts dating from nearly a quarter century after his death attributing the Septem verba a Christo in cruce moriente prolata  (The Seven Words of the Dying Christ on the Cross) to 'Sig Pergolese' and the set of performing parts at Kremsmünster Abbey in 2009 by Reinhard Fehling which forms the basis for this performance is evidence for its authenticity.  In a way it doesn't matter whether Pergolesi wrote it or not – it's of sufficiently high quality that it can stand, or fall, on its own merits as a piece of music in its own right so I find myself agreeing with Fehling that:

"The question of the work's authenticity must be separated from that of its value. Or, to put it simply, its value does not depend on whether Pergolesi actually wrote it."

That being said I wish people would stop trying to tie it to Pergolesi's best known work. There is simply no basis for saying  "certainly, there are more than faint echoes of his Stabat Mater here" because such echoes – if they exist at all, are dim and distant indeed. It's far more tightly constructed than his other works including the Stabat Mater and the orchestral writing is unlike anything else he ever wrote.

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Birmingham Boys Choir: A Spring Song – a Welsh Folksong – YouTube

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June 6, 2015

Performed by the Birmingham Boys Choir at the 37th Annual Spring Concert, May 17th, 2015 , Dawson Memorial Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama
Ken Berg, Music Director
Susan Berg, Associate Music Director and Pianist
Jeff Caulk, Erin Evans, Phillip Ritchey, Music Assistants

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Arvo Pärt (b1935): De Profundis

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June 5, 2015

Pärt's setting of Psalm 130 dates from 1980 and is dedicated to Gottfried von Einem. It's set for male voices and organ with bass drum.  It's the first piece of Pärt's music I ever heard and to me, it still epitomises much of his music which seems so spare and simple when you look at the score but which reveals its depths when you hear it performed. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Fartein Valen (1887–1952): Psalm 121

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June 4, 2015
Trolltunga in Hardaland, West Norway. Valen believed that Nature's beauty and the splendour of the mountains are a reflection of God.

Trolltunga in Hardaland, West Norway. Valen believed that Nature's beauty and the splendour of the mountains are a reflection of God.

The son of a missionary Valen was born in  Stavanger in 1887, he received his first musical education in between 1907 and 1909 in Kristiania (Oslo) under Elling and then at the Berlin Conservatory (1909–1911) under Bruch.  He returned to Norway in 1916 settling in Valevåg in his native Hardaland. He moved to Oslo in 1924 working part-time in the university library and doing some teaching. Despite acquiring a reputuation as a superb teacher and being awarded an annual grant for life by Norway's National Assembly he felt uncomfortable in the city and returned to the country. I'm mostly interested in his choral music but his large-scale instrumental music from this period including four symphonies a violin concerto and a piano concerto are well worth seeking out by those with an interest in modern music.

His setting of Psalm 121 which you can hear below reflects his increasingly successful attempts to explore tonal harmony and to express  his belief that nature's marvels and beauty reflect God's power that "holds its protecting hand over the doubting soul of the pilgrim". Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Wednesday Earwig: Circle of Life/Baba Yethu – Drakensberg Boys Choir

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June 3, 2015

It's been a while since we've had an earwig from the Drakies. Enjoy :-).
mfi Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Constitues eos principes

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June 2, 2015

Constitues eos principes (You will make them princes) is one of three pieces of music that Byrd composed specifically for the feast of saints Peter and Paul, he published it in the 1607 Gradualia. It's a six-part setting, confident and modern and full of energy in which the anguish we associate with the Cantiones is conspicuous by its absence. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Francisco de Peñalosa (±1470-1528): Ave verum corpus

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June 1, 2015

Francisco de Peñalosa is one those composers associated with the rise of Spain, with Ferdinand and Isabella and their royal chapels, and with the great cathedral choirs such as those of Toledo and Seville. Whenever I think of this period in Iberian history my thoughts turn to Juan de Anchieta, Pedro de Escobar, Juan del Encina and Francisco de Peñalosa. He was born some time around 1470 near Madrid and served in Ferdinand V of Aragon's chapel. He rose to be appointed maestro de capilla to Ferdinand's grandson in 1511 and was granted a benefice of Seville Cathedral. He's known to have been in Seville in 1516 after Ferdinand’s death, and to have lived in Rome from 1517 until 1525 when he returned to Seville where he remained until his death. His contemporaries greatly admired his music with Cristóbal de Villalón comparing him to Josquin which when one considers that some motets now known to be by him were at one time believed to be by Josquin is less unreasonable than it sounds. Certainly his music was influenced by Josquin and by the Flemish composers who worked for the Spanish monarchy. His Eucharistic motet Ave verum corpus is somewhat old-fashioned in it's style being entirely composed in plain chordal blocks, old fashioned perhaps but nevertheless beautiful. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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