Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Sanctorum meritis RV620

Vivaldi’s setting of this hymn dates from some time during the 1720s. The hymn itself has six stanzas but Vivaldi set only the first, third and sixth. Each of these has the same music and each is preceded by an identical instrumental ritornello. It sounds dull but Vivaldi’s addtion of lightly syncopated (‘sawing’) rhythms to…

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (±1525-1594): Stabat Mater

Palestrina’s ‘Stabat Mater’ was written around 1589 and is that musical paradox a miniature on a grand scale written in the Venetian polychoral style. It’s harmonies are modal which gives an atmosphere of nostalgia and regret to Palestrina’s word painting. It’s the musical equivalent of the paintings of the grieving mother at the foot of…

Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599): Conditor alme siderum

Conditor alme siderum is the first hymn of the ecclesiastical year and was the first of Guerrero’s set of liturgical Office Hymns included in his 1584 Vespers book. By setting it in what was called ‘tempus perfectum‘ Guerrero was able to take the traditional Spanish triple-time which moves along at a fair clip and slow…