Posts Tagged ‘ Choral Music ’

Feature: Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) — Monteverdi Messa a 4 da Cappella

February 12, 2014

Monteverdi 150x150 Seven years after Monteverdi's death Alessandro Vincenti published 'the sacred relics of the works of the most excellent Monteverdi', beginning the collection with the 'Messa a 4 voci da Cappella'. It's a tightly written piece that derives much of its interest from the ingenuity with which Monteverdi made use of the descending scale of a fourth and the rising thirds of the opening theme. It's quite a florid piece that's closer to his concertato pieces than to anything else with lots of textural variations – duets and trios, changes of timing and some chordal writing to maintain interest. It's a wonderful mix of the old and new and shows how Monteverdi's close study of Gombert's music repaid itself in the form of Monteverdi's enhanced mastery of contrapuntal writing. Enjoy :-)

markfromireland

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Javier Busto (born 1949): Salve Regina – Cantemus Children’s Choir

January 31, 2014

The Basque composer Javier Busto was born in Hondarribia in the Basque Country of Spain in 1949 a medical doctor with a GP's practise in Gipuzkoa his compositions are very popular with European choirs particularly at choral contests. This performance by the excellent Hungarian Cantemus Children's Choir under their conductor Denes Szabó shows why. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

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Feature: Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) — Missa in honorem BVM (Mass in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

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January 29, 2014

Haydn's Missa in honorem BVM - Hob. XXII-5 (Mass in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary) which you'll sometimes hear called the 'Große Orgelmesse' (Great Organ Mass) because it contains several substantial organ solos is the second of two large-scale Masses that Haydn who was devoted to the Virgin Mary composed with a few years of each other.

It's a highly individual composition, in fact it's unique, amongst Haydn's Masses that contains some very fine fugal writing - for example in the Gloria and the Credo. Pastoralism - the Benedictus is quintessentialy pastoral and has a very nice organ solo to boot and to top it off Haydn indulged his love of  word-painting throughout for example the decending soprano line at 'descendit' and sudden hush at 'et mortuos'. Its uniqueness amongst his Masses can be seen in its key of E flat major which was very unusual for a Mass of this period. Then there's Haydn's use of the two cors anglais instead of oboes which although they're not particularly solistic nevertheless pervade the entire work with an earnestly reverential tone.

As to his use of the organ in the Mass this reflects a tradition in Austrian church music more than anything else although Haydn wouldn't be Haydn if he didn't give it his own twist. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland 

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Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Benedictus Blessed be the Lord God of Israel

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January 27, 2014

Before going any further it is important for you to understand that there are two texts called 'the Benedictus' one is part of the Mass the other is called ''The Benedictus of Zechariah' or 'The Canticle of Zechariah' which gets its name from the first line of its text in the Vulgate:

"Benedictus Deus Israhel quia visitavit et fecit redemptionem plebi suae"

Tallissketch150x184In Tallis' time this canticle was sung at Lauds – the service of morning worship that was traditionally said or chanted at daybreak. But Tallis lived in turbulent times and the English Reformation abolished Lauds and substituted Mattins the protestant reformers also abolished the use of Latin stipulating that the texts to be used in the reformed rites were to be in English and the music was to be of sufficient plainness as not to distract the congregation from their prayers. While Tallis' sympathies were with the Catholic Church and against the reformers he nevertheless as a loyal subject of the English crown set English texts for use in the Anglican rites when required to do so.

One such text set by Tallis was Zechariah's canticle. Tallis' setting dates from 1546-8 and in common with other English texted settings by him can be found in the Wanley and Lumley partbooks. He faced several problems while setting this text which can be summarised in two words 'length' and 'interest'. How was he to avoid turning out monotonous musical stodge given the length of the text and the constraints imposed by the sobriety of style demanded by the reformers?

The first part of his solution to this problem was to create lots of contrasts throughout his setting of the text. The second was to divide the choir between tenors and basses and to provide this divided choir with lots of variation amongst the points of imitation. He also made some use of word-painting for example at 'And hath lifted up an horn' and varied homophony with counterpoint. Finally Tallis made a wonderfully effective and very innovative use of a change of chord at 'To give light to them that sit in darkness' to illustrate the sudden transition from the darkness of sin to the sunlit uplands of redemption. The result is a warm and sonorous piece that was much admired by his contemporaries including that other musical genius William Byrd who was so impressed by it that he re-used Tallis' melody of of 'which hath been since the world began' in his setting of the Great Service. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

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Orlande de Lassus (±1530-1594): Pacis amans

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January 20, 2014

De Lassus was never employed at the imperial court but the fact that he worked for the Dukes of Bavaria meant that he was frequently called upon to write music to be sent to the Emperor as a musical gift.  'Pacis amans' (Lover of peace) is one such gift it was written to celebrate Maximilian's II crowning as King of Bohemia in 1562. It's a pleasant piece with some very forward-looking and varied harmonic writing. Enjoy :-)

markfromireland

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