Alessandro Scarlatti (1660–1725): Cantata pastorale per la natività di Nostre Signore (Christmas Cantata)

A Scarlatti – Christmas Cantata – Cantata pastorale per la natività di Nostre Signore: Oh di Betlemme altera povertà Gertraut Stoklassa, soprano Purcell Singers / Mainz Chamber Orchestra / Gunter Kerr 1.Sinfonia 2.Recitativo: O di Betlemme 3.Aria: Dal bel seno d’una stella 4.Recitativo: Presa d’uomo la forma 5.Aria: L’Autor d’ogni mio bene 6.Recitativo: Fortunati pastori…

Richard Pygott (±1485 – 1549): Quid petis, O fili?

Painting: Holy Family with Music Making Angels Artist: Attributed to the Master of Frankfurt Date: Circa 1515 Technique: Oil on wood panel Location: Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool As with so many Tudor era composers information about Pygott’s early life is  scarce, what we do know about him is that he was taken up by Cardinal…

Peter Philips (1560-1628): Cantabant Sancti

Philips  composed Cantabant Sancti (The Saints sing) In Festo SS. Innocentium – in honour of The Feast of the Holy Innocents which falls on December 28th and commemorates the massacre of the children by King Herod in his attempt to kill the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:16–18). It’s a responsory and versicle that starts with just…

The Herefordshire Carol – The King’s Singers

We owe our knowledge of this folk carol to Ralph Vaug­han Wil­liams who transcribed and popularised it. He got it from Ella Leath­er, a collector of folk music who had transcribed it from a folk singer named William Jenkins. I think it’s a survival from what was known as "gallery music" which was music written…

Hail Mary Full Of Grace – English 15th Century

Carols emerged in England during the Middle Ages they were related in form to the French dance songs called Caroles and were either in Latin, or English, or were macaronic – a mix of the two. Their structure was both distinctive and rigid with the singers alternating between a refrain called the "burden" and stanzas…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): O magnum misterium

O magnum misterium is Byrd’s SATB setting of this much-loved text. He published it in the 1607 Gradualia, it’s a lovely piece of music in which he conveys his sense of awe and wonder at The Nativity. In the performance below the Cambridge Singers have included Beata Virgo, which although it’s a separate motet, followed…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Puer natus est nobis

Puer natus est nobis Et filius datus est nobis Cuius imperium super humerum eius Et vocabitur nomen eius Magni consilii Angelus Cantate Domino canticum novum Quia mirabilia fecit Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, in secula seculorum. Amen.    Introit for the Mass of Christmas Day

Hieronymus Praetorius (1560-1629): In dulci Jublio

Hieronymus Praetorius was born in 1560 in Hamburg where his father Jacob was organist at the Jacobikirche, when his father died  Hieronymus became organist, holding the post for the rest of his life. He was quite a daring composer for his time and I sometimes wonder how the congregations reacted the first time they heard…