Guillaume de Machaut (±1300-1377): Inviolata Genitrix

Guillaume de Machaut continues to be acknowledged to this day as the most significant French poet and composer of the fourteenth century [I wrote about him here: Sunday Feature: Guillaume de Machaut (c1300-1377): – Messe de Nostre Dame – Ensemble Gilles Binchois dir. D. Vellard | Saturday Chorale – mfi]. He was both a poet…

Philippe de Monte (1521-1603): Ne timeas, Maria

Philippe de Monte (1521-1603) was an extraordinarily prolific composer. Anglophones mostly know of him because of his friendship with William Byrd and the resulting motets dealing with the oppression of Catholics under English rule. But this was only one episode in an extraordinarily productive career he published no less than thirty-four(!) books of madrigals,  thirty-eight…

Francisco de Peñalosa (±1470-1528): Sancta Maria

Francisco de Peñalosa’s setting of the Magnificat Antiphon for First Vespers on Feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary is quite typical of his motets in that it’s entirely free of borrowed material and is very concerned  expressing the text this very humanist approach represented a decisive break with the past and Peñalosa exploited the compositional…

André Campra (1660–1744): Salve Regina

Campra’s setting of the Salve is one of his Petits Motets its style is very strongly reminiscent of an Italian cantata there’s the very expressive writing, the vocal repetition, the melismatic writing, and the presence of some quite florid passages. I think the opening with its expressive silences and the lovely melismas that can be…

Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599): Beata Dei genitrix

Beata Dei genitrix (Blessed mother of God) is one of many motets composed by Guerrero in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It’s a powerful and yet beautifully serene song in her praise that Guerrero published first in 1585 and then again in 1589. It’s a six-part (SSAATB) motet that’s musically divided into two halves…

Francesco Cavalli (1602-1676): Magnificat A Sei Voci

Cavalli was born in Crema in February 1602 the son of Giovanni Battista Caletti Bruni, who at that time was maestro di cappella in Crema’s Cathedral. He had a particularly beautiful voice, so much so that Federigo Cavalli, the chief magistrate of the city and one of Venice’s foremost aristocrats took the then fourteen-year old…

Josquin Des Prez (±1450-1521): Recordare, virgo mater

Some musicologists doubt whether this is really by Josquin but I think the fact that it survived only in Antico’s second book of motets which he published in 1520 isn’t enough to discount it. It’s got an unusual texture – three equal high voices being set against one low one, and is almost relentlessly energetic…

Jacob Regnart (±1540-1599): Inviolata

Jacob Regnart’s somewhat conservative compositional style is displayed to best advantage in this plainchant-based sequence motet. Inviolata (Inviolate) was a very popular text amongst sixteenth century composers as well as Regnart himself it was set by Gombert and of course Josquin whose setting served as model for many others. I like this setting by Regnart…

Felice Anerio (±1560-1614): Stabat Mater A12

From about 1610 a spirit of triumphalism could be heard in much of the music heard in the Sistine Chapel. There was a trend towards the use of massive vocal forces such as the Masse and Motets scored double and triple choirs (including basso continuo) composed by Vincenzo Ugolini, (1580 – 1638), maestro di capella…