Posts Tagged ‘ Cantus Firmus ’

Nicolas Gombert (±1495-±1560): Musae Jovis

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February 3, 2016

Nicolas Gombert's  "Deploration on the death of Josquin Desprez" is a motet-chanson set in the Phrygian mode. You may sometimes see it referred to as an Ars combinatoria composition which means quite simply that a secular text is combined with a Latin cantus firmus sung by one of the tenor voices in long drawn out notes. In this case the cantus firmus is supplied by the Good Friday response "Circumdederunt me gemitus mortis, dolores inferni circumdederent me" (Laments of death have surrounded me, pains of hell have surrounded me)  Gombert takes this theme and weaves some very elaborate counterpoint around it as the singers lament Josquin's passing and the injustice of death.  This use of the cantus firmus which Gombert transposes down beginning on E rather than F is a very explicit homage to Josquin who used exactly this technique in his own homage to a deceased composer Nymphes des bois the homage is all the more marked because Gombert very rarely employed the cantus firmus technique. The intent is very clear rendering homage to a master mourned by all but the style is definitely Gombert's own the counterpoint woven around the cantus firmus is far less formal than something Josquin might have written and ebbs and flows far more – thereby maintaining both musical interest and a somewhat meditative tone. It concludes with some triple time writing marking Josquin's transposition to the heavens. Enjoy :-).

mfi.

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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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Matthaeus Pipelare ( ±1450 – ±1515): Missa L’homme Armé

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June 21, 2015

Matthaeus Pipelare was a southern Netherlandish composer who flourished in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. I can tell you almost nothing about his life because the only thing about him that is known for certain is that he was active in Antwerp but left there in the spring of 1498 until about 1 May 1500 to take up the prestigious and well-paid post of Master of the Choristers for the Confraternity of Our Lady at the Cathedral of St. John in 's-Hertogenbosch. Not much of his work survives but that which does survive is widespread being found in no less than sixty sources located in libraries from Russia to Spain to Italy. It's of such superb quality and so engaging for performer and listener alike that it's easy to see why his contemporaries ranked him alongside Josquin, la Rue, Brumel, and Isaac.

The Missa ‘L'homme armé’ which you can hear below is in some ways quite typical of Flemish musical writing of the time in its complexity, sonority, and extensive use of lower voices including what we now call basso profundo. It's scored for Altus (high tenor), baritone, bass, and basso profundo and makes extensive use of its cantus firmus "L'homme Armé"which Pipelar makes use of throughout the Mass starting in the Kyrie where it appears in all the voices. It's a technically very demanding work clearly intended for performance by a top-class professional choir in which syncopation, faux-bourdon, canonical writing, imitation, homophony, and polyphony all make their appearance. Notwithstanding its musical variety Pipelare's Missa "L'homme Armé" has a tightly integrated feel and a considerable sense of forward motion I'm not surprised it wound up as part of the Sistine Chapel's repertoire. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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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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Josquin Des Prez (±1450 1521): Missa Pange Lingua

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May 31, 2015

Josquin Signature 180x143 Josquin's Mass setting Missa Pange Lingua is based upon the melody of Pange Lingua, Aquinas's adaptation of Venantius Fortunatus' hymn for Corpus Christi. It's a remarkable piece of music, composed when Josquin was at the height of his power. It's both a cantus firmus Mass and a paraphrase setting, cantus firmus because Josquin uses the Pange Lingua chant as the basis for each movement and paraphrase because he uses Pange Lingua's melody in each of the Mass' sections.

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