Feature: Libera: Coventry Carol

I remember very clearly the first time I saw Cogniet’s "Massacre of the innocents".  Cogniet’s paintings can be a bit mannerly but there’s nothing polite or bland about terror and Cogniet’s depiction of a terrified mother desperately trying to keep her child quiet lest they be discovered by Herod’s soldiers as they massacre all the…

Giovanni Legrenzi (1626-1690): O mirandum mysterium

During the 1620s Gabrielli’s polychoral style was supplanted by a completely different form of sacred music. Composers wrote more and more for solo voices and laid considerably more emphasis on virtuosity. At the same time there was a move away from large groups of accompanying instruments consisting at the very least of cornetts, violins and…

Palestrina: Christmas Motet Hodie Christus natus est & Christmas Mass Missa Hodie Christus natus est – YouTube

Picture: Domenico GhirlandaioAdoration of the ShepherdsStart Date 1482 Completion Date: 1485Technique: Oil on canvasLocation: Sassetti Chapel, Santa Trinita, Florence For this year’s Christmas’ music I’ve picked one of Palestrina’s Christmas motets  ‘Hodie Christus natus est’ (This day was Christ born) the Mass setting he based upon it. They’re both beautiful pieces of music and both…

O Radix Jesse: Great Antiphon for 19 December

The third of the ‘O’ Antiphons  is based upon Isaiah 11:1 and Isaiah 11:10. Jesse was King David’s father the prophet Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of the house of David and would be born in David’s city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:1) . Christ is the "shoot of Jesse" by his descent from…

Chilcott: The Shepherd’s Carol We stood on the hills, Lady

Bob Chilcott’s The Shepherd’s Carol was composed for the 2000 Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at King’s College, Cambridge. It’s a thoroughly modern piece that takes Chilcott’s original melody repeating and enhancing it from verse to verse spinning a beautiful web of choral music as it does so. It’s quality speaks, or rather sings,…

Palestrina: O magnum mysterium

Palestrina’s six-part motet "O magnum mysterium" was published in Rome in 1569 as part of  a collection of motets, for five, six and seven voices. It’s a six-part motet that Palestrina wrote for Christmas – the Feast of the Nativity and is both a beautiful piece of music and a marvellous example of his skill.…