Posts Tagged ‘ Baroque choral music ’

Balduin Hoyou (±1547–1594): Aus Tiefer Not

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January 17, 2015

Hoyou was a Flemish born composer who spent most of his career in Germany, he was born in Liège either in 1547 or in 1548. I don't know where he got his first musical training – presumably in Liège, by 1563 he had been a choirboy for several years in the  Württemberg Hofkapelle at Stuttgart. His voice broke in that when he would have been fifteen and for many choristers that would have been the end of their careers.  But Hoyoul must have been well thought of and showed considerable musical potential because the then Kapellmeister Philipp Weber, persuaded the Duke to pay for him to study with de Lassus at Munich in 1564–5. He returned to Wurtemburg aged seventeen and immediately took up a post that combined the duties of singing as alto and as a composer. The Duke must have been pleased with his efforts because there are numerous records of payments to him and in 1589 following the death of Ludwig Daser appointed him as Kapellmeister. Of all his works his chorale based German motets are perhaps the best known, they're lively and fresh workings of the Chorales with very full harmonics and a rich contrapuntal style as you can hear below in his SATTB setting of Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir (Psalm 130). Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Pelham Humfrey (±1648 —1 674): By the waters of Babylon

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January 16, 2015

Pelham Humfrey started his career as one of the 'forwardest & brightest' boys recruited for the Chapel Royal by  Henry Cooke who had been ordered by Charles II to restore English Church Music to its former glory. He was probably a Londoner but nobody really knows all that much about his origins. What we do know is that 'forward and bright' really only begins to describe his musical talent who already had written several anthems by the time his voice broke aged sixteen. Aged sixteen he was sent to Paris on full pay for two years to study music and on his return proved himself to be a master musician and composer who succeeded to the post of royal choirmaster when Cooke died in 1672. Sadly he only outlived his old master by two years but in that two years he produced some remarkably fine music including By the waters of Babylon. It's a symphony anthem – one of fourteen that he composed, and clearly demonstrates his skill at crafting musical structures in in which the vocal and instrumental components are organically linked, rather than just tacked together which had been the norm up to then. It's a somewhat unusual symphony anthem in that it opens with a short prelude rather than the full symphony which appears as a dance measure towards the end. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Giovanni Rovetta (1596-1668): Beatus Vir

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January 12, 2015

'For the composition of the music and as master of the chapel, from among so many who could be found in Venice, Signor Rueti was chosen, and expressly ordered to assemble as many singers and instrumentalists as could be found in
the city, in order to satisfy the magnificent projects of His Excellency, who desired the choicest and most solemn music that could be found.'

When Seigneur Hamelot de la Houssaye the French Ambassador to Venice in 1638 wanted to commission music to celebrate the birth of the future Louis XIV naturally only the best would do and the best was 'Signor Rueti'  (Giovanni Rovetta). At that time Rovetta was held in such esteem by his contemporaries that he had been appointed twelve years previously as vice maestro di cappella at San Marco. Rovetta started his career as a chorister and worked his way up through the ranks until he was appointed as Maestro Claudio Monteverdi's principal deputy at the remarkably young age of thirty. (He succeeded Monteverdi as Maestro in 1644 a position he retained until his death). For Rovetta the Ambassador's commission must have seemed like manna from Heaven as it gave him the opportunity of publishing a collection of his music – an important step in his careeer that he had not yet taken. This was published in 1639 and included inter alia Rovetta's Messa, e salmi concertati, op.4, the 'solennissima Messa' of 1638, twelve vesper psalms and the Magnificat you can hear below. It's definitely a 'magnificent project' being in eight parts and scored for soloists, chorus and instruments, I'm sure the ambassador was more than content with this wonderful example of the concertato style Vespers Psalm, with its alternation of solos, duets, choral tutti and instrumental ritornellos. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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J.S. Bach – Christmas Oratorio BWV 248

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December 28, 2014

Sir John Eliot Gardiner chose to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the death of Johann Sebastian Bach in his own inimitable style: with the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists he undertook an extended concert tour to perform the composer's entire known output of sacred cantatas at churches and concert halls all over Europe. The tour began at the Herderkirche in Weimar, where on 23rd and 27th December 1999 all six parts of the Christmas Oratorio were performed and recorded.

Bach's "Oratorio Performed Musically During the Holy Christmas Season in Both Principal Churches in Leipzig" - as the inscription on the printed libretto states - was written at the end of the year 1734/35. The "oratorio" is in fact a grouping of six cantatas and Bach intended the individual works to be performed on six separate feast days between Christmas and Epiphany. But in calling the piece an oratorio, is it possible that Bach perhaps intended a complete performance at a later date? This is unlikely. As the celebreated Bach scholar Albert Schweitzer wisely remarks, there is little to be gained by performing the entire oratorio in a single evening, since "the weary listener would be in no state to appreciate the beauty of the second part." A more plausible theory, perhaps, is that it was easier to sell a compilation of cantatas rather than individual copies. But Bach's real motives will probably remain hidden.

Enjoy :-)

markfromireland

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Dieterich Buxtehude (Attrib): Magnificat

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December 19, 2014

This Magnificat is attributed to Buxtehude mostly on the basis that it appears in Gustav Düben's collection of  scores. The score has Buxtehude's name on it in square brackets but if you look at the name it's very obviously been added by a later hand. Other than that the sole basis for the attribution seems to be that Bruno Grusnick who edited the first modern edition of Buxtehude's works said it was by Buxtehude. It's hard to see why he believed this as it doesn't resemble anything that Buxtehude ever wrote but Grusnick's assertion was the received wisdom until Martin Geck pointed out the obvious.

Whoever wrote it it's a charming piece (SSATB, with SSATB soli and instruments) that's greatly loved in Germany but for some odd reason or another is largely unknown outside of there. It's written in the Franco-Italian middle baroque bel canto style popularised by Carissimi and Lully and has some delighful triple time melodies. As you might expect from bel canto music there's a fair amount of diatonic harmonies and a very clear structure laid out in sections. The scoring is for two violins, two violas, cello, bass, and continuo. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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