Posts Tagged ‘ English choral music ’

Walter Lambe (±1450 – ±1500): Nesciens Mater

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September 30, 2014

The clearest possible indication of how important Lambe was considerered to be by his contemporaries lies in the fact that so many of his compositions were collected in the Eton Choirbook. His five part (SATTB) setting of the Marian antiphon Nesciens Mater uses the chant as its cantus firmus but surrounds it with what Harry Christophers describes as 'an incandescent tracery of voices, echoing if you like the Perpendicular architecture of Henry VI’s Eton'.  It's a lovely piece of work that gives me pleasure every time I hear it. It's some of the most beautiful polyphony I know of, I particularly admire the cadences at the end. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Jonathan Battishill (1738-1801): O Lord, look down from heaven

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August 30, 2014

Battishill started his musical career as a choirboy at St Paul's which developed after his voice changed into a fine tenor, but it was his ability as an organ player and his prodigious musical memory that really impressed his contemporaries. He had hoped for a position at St. Paul's as organist but a tendency to excessive consumption of alcohol – particularly after his wife eloped to Dublin with an actor, put paid to that hope. He retained nevertheless a close connection to St. Paul's where he is buried. His anthem O Lord, look down from heaven takes its text fron Isaiah 64 and was most likely composed with the acoustic of St Paul's in mind it's a curiously old-fashioned piece that reminds many quite strongly of Elizabethan era music.http://saturdaychorale.com/2014/08/30/jonathan-battishill-1738-1801-o-lord-look-down-from-heaven/ Enjoy :-).

mfi

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William Byrd (±1539-1623): Domine ante te omne desiderium

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August 29, 2014

This terse but wonderful six-part setting of two verses from Psalm 37 (Psalm 38 in protestant Bibles) is an early piece which exists only in manuscript. I love how the first verse is so … … … tenative and how it gathers pace, and conviction, as Byrd moves the motet forward to describing in music the Psalmist's feelings.
Enjoy :-)

mfi

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William Byrd (±1539-1623): Nunc Dimittis from the Great Service

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August 25, 2014

Byrd's settings for the Great Service took Anglican music forward from its hesitant and somewhat experimental phase into somewhat more splendid territory. He probably wrote the Magnificat (about which I wrote last Friday see: William Byrd (±1539-1623): Magnificat from the Great Service | Saturday Chorale) and the Nunc Dimittis last it's beautiful music which manages to obey the requirement that the text should be set clearly while making use of juxtaposition and contrast to great dramatic effect. It's been described as the 'finest unaccompanied setting of the Service in the entire repertory of English church music' I have to say I agree. Enjoy :-)-

mfi

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William Byrd (±1539-1623): Magnificat from the Great Service

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August 22, 2014

byrd_signature_01_small Although he was a devout Catholic Byrd nevertheless produced music for his royal protector's church. Not very much of it to be sure and none of it was published under his name,  people sometimes assume that because he believed so strongly that the Anglican church was in error that the music he produced for its services must necessarily be somehow lesser than the music he produced for his fellow Catholics and their persecuted church. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the Magnificat from the Great Service testifies.

It's a relatively late work that must date from the last years of the century and both its musical breadth and its lavish ten-part structure (SAATBSAATB)  makes me think that he wrote it for the Chapel Royal.  He pays musical homage to the previous generation's canticle settings  but handles them in a far more imaginative and sophisticated way. There's a lot of juxtaposition and contrast which Byrd exploits to dramatic effect. The effect is both sonorous and beautiful I cannot help but think that Elizabeth would have been very pleased with him. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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