Adrian Willaert (±1490-1562): Mittit ad virginem

Willært’s setting of  this sequence hymn for The Annunciation, the text of which is by Abelard was published in Venice in 1559 as part of his "Musica Nova" – the newness in this case refers to the fact that these motets had never been published before. It’s a calm and beautifully harmonised setting whose restrained…

Salve sancta parens

Salve sancta parens (Hail, holy parent,) is set as the Introit at Lady Mass in Eastertide and the Introit at Mass for the Nativity of the Virgin and as such has been set by composers from medieval times on. Good recordings of the chant are relatively rare particularly when sung using medieval Latin pronunciation with…

Antoine Brumel (±1460 — ±1513): Sicut lilium inter spinas

His contemporaries ranked Brumel’s music highly comparing him favourably with both Josquin and Ockeghem. His four-part (SATB or ATTB) setting of Sicut lilium inter spinas (As the lily among thorns) Song of Solomon 2: 2 which at that time was the Antiphon for Matins of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is quite typical…

Benedetto Marcello (1686–1739): Dulcis Jesu Mater cara

Bendetto Marcello’s reputation has been eclipsed by that of Vivaldi and the other professional musicians of his era his music is now largely forgotten. Its obscurity is our loss for Marcello’s music was greatly admired and rightly so by Bach, Telemann, Locatelli, Avison and Goethe, and in later times Cherubini, Rossini and Verdi. The ‘Nobile…

Josquin Des Prez (±1450 1521): Virgo salutiferi

In 1503 Duke Ercole I of Ferrara overruled his advisers and employed Josquin as maestro di cappella they’d advised him to hire Heinrich Isaac instead of Josquin because he was easier to get on with, was more companionable, far less inclined to make a fuss about composing on demand, and last but by no means…

Feature: Alessandro Grandi (±1586 – 1630): Salve Regina

This wonderful setting of the Salve is a particularly fine example of what a talented composer does when confronted with artistic restrictions. Grandi was one of those composers who flourished in Venice during Monteverdi’s time and in his shadow. He’d held posts as a maestro di capella in Ferrara, and had previously sung and studied…

Johannes Ockeghem (±1410 –1497): Salve Regina

Ockeghem’s reputation during his lifetime was, as Timothy Dickey puts it, ‘stellar’ he was equally admired by his fellow musicians and his patrons amongst whom were numbered no less than three kings of France. His setting of the Salve which you can hear below with its dense and inventive polyphony woven around the chant melody…

Franchino Gaffurio (1451 – 1522): Salve Regina

Gaffurio is now remembered as a scholar and a theoretician rather than as a composer. He was very influential during his lifetime and for about a century after. He stands out as an Italian at a time when the choirs and musical ensembles of the courts, colleges, and cathedrals were dominated by composers from the…

John Dunstable (± 1390-1453): Beata Dei genitrix

The English guise they wear with grace They follow Dunstable aright, And thereby have they learned apace To make their music gay and bright. English composers had considerable influence in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance perhaps the most influential was Dunstable of whom Martin le Franc wrote that Guillaume Du Fay and Gilles Binchois,…