Felice Anerio (±1560-1614): Regina caeli laetare (a8)

Anerio’s eight part setting of this Marian Antiphons is a perfect example why his contemporaries considered him to be a worthy successor to Palestrina as official Papal composer. It combines beautiful flowing polyphony combined with homophonic passages and shifts in timing. As you might expect from Palestrina’s successor the textual clarity is impeccable throughout. Enjoy…

John Mason (±1480 – 1548): Vae nobis miseris

Mason was was awarded the BMus at Oxford in February 1509 and was ordained as a priest at around that time. He held the post of informator choristarum (Instructor of the Choristers of the chapel) at Magdalen College, for a fifteen month period from March 1509 until June 1510 but left to take up other…

Matthaeus Pipelare ( ±1450 — ±1515): Salve Regina

Pipelare’s setting of the Salve is an alternatim setting in which only the even-numbered verses are set. I think it must be a relatively early work because of its rhythmic use of syncopated short notes it’s a surprisingly varied setting that makes use of the old-fashioned technique of varying dense imitative writing with multipart passages.…

Peter Philips (1560-1628): Regina Caeli laetare

The Regina Caeli is one of four Marian antiphons traditionally said or sung after compline. It is said throughout Eastertide –  the fifty day period from Easter Sunday to Pentecost, and during that period can be said in place of the Angelus. Philips’  setting while it is for two choirs is more Roman than Venetian…

Edward Bairstow (1874–1946): Save us, O Lord

Bairstow started out as a teacher but in 1893 he took up a post combining the duties of pupil and amanuensis to Frederick Bridge at Westminster Abbey. From there he progressed through various posts as organist and choirmaster until eventually taking up the post of organist in of York Minster in 1913 a post he…

John Taverner (±1490—1545): O splendor gloriae

Taverner’s Jesus antiphon O splendor gloriae probably dates from Taverner’s later years in Boston and was most likely a commission from the Boston Guild of Corpus Christi, to Taverner he belonged. It’s composed on a very grand scale but the scale in no way detracts from the clarity of its texture. Taverner made heavy use…

Walter Lambe (±1450 – ±1500): Nesciens Mater

The clearest possible indication of how important Lambe was considerered to be by his contemporaries lies in the fact that so many of his compositions were collected in the Eton Choirbook. His five part (SATTB) setting of the Marian antiphon Nesciens Mater uses the chant as its cantus firmus but surrounds it with what Harry…

Richard Davy (±1465-1538): Salve Regina

Davy was one of the first of the new generation of English composers who flourished under the Tudors. His setting of the Salve is free-composed throughout making no reference to the chant. It’s very distinctly English and quite unlike anything that his contemporaries in Italy, France or theLow Countries would have composed.  There’s a sweetness…

Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599): Regina caeli a 8

His contemporaries thought so highly of Guerrero that during Philip II’s reign he was hailed as Spain’s foremost composer. His compositional skills were based upon his musical gifts he not only sang but was an excellent player of the organ, vihuela, harp and cornett.  Later generations weren’t so enthusiastic with musicologists and music historians tending…

John Sheppard (±1515-1558): Libera nos, salva nos I

Although the text of Libera nos, salva nos is from the first antiphon at Matins on Trinity Sunday its  plea to to the Holy Trinity for freedom, redemption, and absolution is so general in tone that Sheppard’s setting which most probably dates from his time at Magdalen College, Oxford was used on other occasions not…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): O quam suavis

Byrd pubished this eucharistic motet in the 1607 Gradualia it’s the magnificat antiphon for First Vespers appointed to be sung on the Feast of Corpus Christi. It opens with some wonderful chromatic harmonies and progresses smoothly through it’s changes both of mood and of subject. It’s sung below by the Cambridge Singers conducted by John…