Robert White (±1538-1574): Magnificat

When Morley, was writing his A Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke (1597) he listed White as one of the greatest English composers saying that he was equal to de Lassus and included him in a list of seven eminent Tudor composers that included "Fayrfax, Taverner, Sheppard, Whyte, Parsons and Mr Byrd." Whenever I…

Maurice Green (1696 – 1755): Lord, let me know mine end

Green was an important composer in his day his music was "generally buoyant and attractively tuneful, is thus more elegant and polished than that of almost all his immediate predecessors and contemporaries" perhaps because he wrote in a more cosmopolitan style than they did. His modern reputation has suffered mostly because Burney took against him.…

Ola Gjeilo: Second Eve

Who better to tell us about Second Eve than the composer himself? In some of my pieces, the text is somewhat more the servant of the music than the other way around, and Second Eve is one of those works. The music is mainly inspired by a breath-taking photography taken by one of my favorite…

Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Nunc dimittis a 5

This five-part (SAT[Bar]B) Latin-texted setting of the Song of Simeon is found only in the Baldwin partbooks. The fact that it’s in Latin presents problems for musical historians with tidy minds because, being in Latin, he surely wouldn’t have composed it during Edward VI’s sternly protestant reign when composers with Catholic sympathies were keeping their…

Cipriano de Rore (c1515-1565): Fratres: Scitote

The second of two five-part motets by De Rore that take their text from the writings of St. Paul  Fratres: Scitote  (Brothers: Know this) sets 1 Corinthians 11: 23-24  in which Paul recounts how during the Last Supper Jesus instituted Holy Communion by taking bread, blessing it, and distributing it. The motet is a bit…

Christopher Gibbons (1615 – 1676): O Bone Jesu

A Latin-texted motet is, as you might expect, quite unusual amongst Gibbons’ compositions1. It’s very beautifully and expressively written and with an very special sound-world. The soprano hovers more than an octave over the three lower voices the effect of which is heightened by sharpened interjections. I found it a very striking piece of music…

John Taverner (±1490–1545): Te Deum

The Te Deum is a very ancient hymn that was sung at the end of Matins on Sundays and major feasts, it was also sung on special occasions of rejoicing or thanksgiving. Because of its length composers in Taverner’s time generally treated it the same way they would treat a psalm as an alternatim setting…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Da mihi auxilium

I’ve written about Byrd’s six-part setting of a text from Psalm 107 before that posting featured a performance by The Cardinall’s Musick under Andrew Carwood, it’s a fine performance as is this somewhat different perfomance by I Fagiolini under Robert Hollingworth which is well worth hearing not only in its own right but also by…