Thomas Tallis (1505-1585): Lamentations of Jeremiah I & II

I’ve always thought of the two sets of Lamentations as Tallis’ most personal music. The text is from that set for Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday) but Tallis plainly had no intention of setting them so that they could be used liturgically. He did something far more radical which is that he turned something which was…

Philippe Rogier (±1561-1596): Caligaverunt oculi mei

Rogier was a Flemish composer who started his musical career at the Spanish court as one of the choirboys recruited by Philip II’s maestro de capilla Geert van Turnhout. During his all-too-short life he rose to become the Emperor’s maestro de capilla himself. His music with its unusual dissonances, striking accidentals, and unexpected suspensions can…

George Malcolm (1917-1997): Miserere mei Deus

Psalm 51 – the Miserere, is the Biblical text around which the Ash Wednesday liturgy revolves. George Malcolm’s setting (Malcolm was Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral between 1947 and 1959) is an alternatim setting of the Psalm. It’s a beautiful piece of work that deserves to be far better known in which Malcolm switches…

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…

Nicolas Gombert (±1495-c1560): Aspice Domine

This is a strange and utterly devastating piece of music. It’s related to one of the most infamous acts of the Renaissance – the sacking of Rome in 1527 by the troops of the Emperor Charles V. Gombert portrays the devastation wreaked upon Rome using dissonance in the first part of the piece while in…

Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Absterge Domine

Absterge Domine was one of Tallis’ greatest hits. It’s one of his ‘devotional’ Elizabethan Latin motets (i.e. its text is non-liturgical,) and despite the fact that it was intended for private use it appears in no less than four contrafacta as well as in the 1575 Cantiones Sacrae. It’s deeply penitential with short sections some…

Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): In manus tuas

Tallis’ setting of the Compline respond is quite typical of his Elizabethan Latin Church music, it’s beguiling in its simplicity and its beauty. Tallis’ solution of what to do with this piece that could not be performed liturgically was elegant – he turned it into a motet. markfromireland

John Sheppard (c1515–December 1558): Media Vita

Sheppard’s music is not as popular as that of his contemporaries – I think this is a shame as he’s right up there alongside his better-known contemporaries Taverner, Tye, White, and even Tallis. If you want to hear Tudor era music of breathtaking beauty and originality then Sheppard’s compositions surely fit the bill. Media Vita…

Franz Schubert (1797-1828): Das Marienbild, D623

Aloys Wilhelm Schreiber’s poem Das Marienbild was published in 1817,  sometime during the spring of 1818 Schubert bought the poetry volume in which it appeared and brought it with him to to Zseliz where he took up residence in July as music master to Count Esterházy’s children. During that summer he set several poems  amongst…

2nd Sunday of Lent 2014: Mozart Requiem K626 C R F Maunder Edition Westminster Cathedral Boys Choir, Academy of Ancient Music

This performance of Mozart’s Requiem K626 is quite different to what you’re used to and assuming that the version with which you’re familiar uses Sussmayr’s score you’re likely to be … surprised, by much of what you hear. Maunder’s edition is far leaner and more taut than Sussmayr’s when coupled with forces similar to those…