Orlande de Lassus (1532-1594): Tristis est anima mea

His setting of Christ’s meditation in the Garden of Gethsemane from the Gospel of St Matthew is one of de Lassus’ most dramatic narrative motets. Lassus takes the text which is taken from the words Jesus spoke to his disciples just before his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane and uses all his skill in…

Orlande de Lassus (±1530-1594): Laudent Deum cithara

This four-part (SATB) setting of a paraphrase of the third and fourth verses of psalm 150 is both surprisingly brief and admirably concise. Faced with a list of musical instruments a lesser composer would most likely have produced something a lot more grandiose, not to say pompous than this quietly confident motet.  De Lassus gives…

Orlande de Lassus (±1530-1594): Osculetur me

De Lassus used this motet which takes its text from the Song of Songs as the basis for his Mass of the same name. It’s an eight-part setting for double choir (SATB SATB) first published in 1582 in Fasciculi aliquot sacrarum it’s characterise by long phrasing offset by contrapuntal writing and contrasting sonority between the…

Orlande de Lassus (±1530-1594): Magnificat tertii toni

This is the earlier of two settings of the Magnificat that de Lassus is known to have composed, he composed it early in the 1560s and published it in Nuremberg in 1567 . It’s an alternatim setting which combines the third mode plainchant Magnificat with four-part polyphonic settings of the verses which themselves are based…

Orlande de Lassus (±1530-1594): Sepul­to Domino Teneb­rae Re­spon­so­ry For Holy Satur­day

The text of Sepul­to Domino the ninth Teneb­rae Re­spon­so­ry For Holy Satur­day comes from the Gospel According to St. Matthew which recounts how following Jesus’ death and burial the chief priests went to Pilate to demand that the tomb be sealed and guarded. Lassus’ setting contrasts homophony with two-part contrapuntalism to provide musical interest and…

Orlande de Lassus (±1530-1594): Timor et tremor

De Lassus’ six-part motet Timor et tremor is a complex and rewarding piece in which De Lassus trys – I think successfully, to portray musically emotional insecurity. Its use of disjunction makes it a beast to sing at all let alone to sing well which is why I greatly admire this performance of it by…