Posts Tagged ‘ Motets ’

Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Miserere nostri

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March 30, 2015

Miserere nostri is unusual amongst Tallis' motets in being set for more than five parts and in following a continental double canon model rather than an English model. It's for six voices with a seventh (tenor) voice making an appearance once for harmonic reasons.

mfi

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Hans Leo Hassler (1562-1612): Ad Dominum

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March 28, 2015

Hassler was very influential in his day both Bach (O Haput voll Blut und Wunde) and Schütz (Psalmen Davids) quoted his music. The son of a stonecutter and part time musician in Nuremburg he was sent to Venice to study music and composition. In Venice he came under the influence of the Gabrieli's  studying under Andrea Gabrieli he stayed in Venice for eighteen months and returned to Germany taking up a position in Augsburg  as chamber organist to Octavian Fugger II. Word of this talented musician and composer spread  the Landgrave of Hesse tried to "poach" him from the Fuggers while the emperor granted him a potentially very lucrative patent to copyright his works. When Fugger died in 1600 the town council tried to keep him in Augsburg by making him the town's musical director but Hassler returned to his home town a year later to take up a similar posting, in 1607 he travelled to Ulm where he married severing all ties to Nuremburg. In 1608 Christian II of Saxony commissioned a composition from him and then appointed Hassler to his staff, he continued as a member of the Saxon court rising quickly to Kapellmeister until his death in 1612.

Musically Hassler was both conservative and ecumenical, ecumenical in that although he himself was a protestant he was quite happy to compose for both the Catholic and Lutheran churches and conservative in that he never wrote a piece that used that hallmark of baroque music the basso continuo  confining his religious compositions to the polyphonic idiom that had been at its height fifty years earlier not only that but you'll often hear the cantus firmus as a motif in every part of his composition. Having said that he was musically conservative I had better qualify that statement somewhat by saying that it was his religious music that was so conservative, he wrote a considerable quantity of secular music such as madrigals, instrumental works, and dance songs, in all of which genres he allowed himself to be somewhat more free-handed. His motet Ad Dominum cum tribularer (In my distress I cried unto the Lord) which takes its texts from the opening verses of Psalm 120  is another exception to the conservatism rule. It's very chromatic with none of the traditional diatonic harmonies, and as you listen you can hear what he was trying to do – to make his music match the text to portray both tribulation (cum tribularer) and its cause a deceitful tongue (lingua dolosa).

mfi

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Attr. John IV, King of Portugal (1604–56): Crux Fidelis

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March 24, 2015

Crux Fidelis is the eight verse of the hymn beginning Pange lingua ('Sing, my tongue') by Saint Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus (c530-c609). It's sung on Good Friday during the Adoration of the Cross, during Holy Week, and during feasts of the Church honouring The Cross. This setting which was first published in Paris in 1843–5 in an eleven-volume collection of 'musique ancienne' is ascribed a date of 1615 and attributed to John IV, King of Portugal. This attribution is unlikely to put it  mildly as he was born in 1604 and nowhere is there any mention of him as being a child-prodigy. The attribution is also highly dubious on stylistic grounds, it's a lovely piece of music and one of my favourite polyphonic settings, but its highly chromatic tonality makes it very unlikely that it was composed during the seventeenth century at all, let alone during its fifteenth year. It's more like something that Lizst in a fit of conscious archaism would have written than a product of any Renaissance composer let alone a composer from the Iberian peninsula. What a pity that the publishers of 'musique ancienne'  felt that instead of accepting and publishing it on its own terms – as a wonderful piece of polyphonic writing,  that they had to assign it an entirely spurious heritage.

mfi

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Robert Ramsey (fl c1612-1644): In monte Oliveti

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March 17, 2015

Ramsey's madrigal-anthem probably dates from around 1615 and was written for private devotions rather than the liturgy. It's a six-part setting that with its harmonic tensions, repetitions, and use of declamation and and dissonance can sound surprisingly modern to our ears. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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William Byrd (±1539-1623): Da mihi auxilium

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March 13, 2015

This six-part (SAATTB) motet with divided tenors and baritones was published in Canciones Sacræ (1575). Its text is taken from Psalm 107 and is a plea to God for respite and aid in times of tribulation. It's quite similar in style to Domine secundum actum meum they're both Aeolian, there's the same voices, and those voices are in the same clefs, both make very sophisticated use of double imitation, and they conclude in similar ways. Both motets were clearly written as an exercise in achieving an ideal form and given the similarities between Byrd's motets and Ferrabosco's I think it's fairly clear that the exemplar for this ideal form was Ferrabosco's Domine non secundum peccata nostra. Enjoy :-)

mfi

 

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