Posts Tagged ‘ Motets ’

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Deficit in dolore

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January 26, 2015

Byrd's AATTB motet Deficit in dolore (Wasted in grief) takes its text from the psalms and free text he published it in the 1589 Cantiones sacrae. Like much in that book Byrd selected and arranged the texts to describe personal suffering before expressing hope. 

mfi

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Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (±1525-1594): Dum complerentur

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January 20, 2015

Palestrina 180x179 captioned Palestrina first published his six-part (SAATTB) Pentecostal motet Dum complerentur in 1589 in the Liber primus motettorum. It's a musical depiction of the 'rushing wind' that filled the house in which the Apostles were hiding when the Holy Spirit descended upon them. It's very cleverly done he uses the Alleluias that mark the end of sections in the text to cue the musical figure whose vigorous forward flow depicts the wind. If you take a look at the score you'll see that it's very densely written with each phrase having it's own motif this makes it quite difficult to sing but the effect is oh so beautiful when the choir succeeds in pulling it off as you can hear below. Enjoy.

mfi

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William Byrd (±1539-1623): Peccantem me quotidie

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January 15, 2015

Byrd's five-part (SATTB) setting of the seventh respond at the matins for the dead is a surprisingly old-fashioned piece of writing that harkens back to Fayrfax, Cornysh, and Ludford. It's a little surprising that Byrd selected such an old-fashioned style as he along with his contemporaries was busy exploring the possibilities offered by the mean vocal range. Old-fashioned but nevertheless very beautiful and a glorious example of what Byrd could do when he put his mind to it. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Robert White (±1538-1574): Exaudiat te Dominus

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January 9, 2015

This is a strange but very lovely piece of music. White was born in London sometime around 1538 he attended Trinity College, Cambridge, in the 1550s graduating with a Mus.B. degree in 1560. He married Tye's daughter and succeeded his father-in-law as Master of the Choristers at Ely Cathedral in 1562. Sometime 1n 1567 he moved to Chester Cathedral, and then three years later he moved to the far more prestigious Westminster Abbey he died of plague in 1574. His Psalm motet Exaudiat te Dominus takes its text from Psalm 19(20) it's a prayer that the monarch triumph over his (her) enemies and in style White's setting is very old-fashioned, in fact it's downright archaic. The closest pieces of music to it both in structure and in terms of the sound palette used are votive antiphons such as Vox Patris caelestis, in other words White is using a style that was itself consciously archaic. It's a puzzle because on the basis that he was very young it's highly unlikely that White composed Exaudiat te Dominus during Queen Mary's reign which means he must have composed it during Elizabeth's reign but for what occasion and for which group of singers? Whoever they were they must have been top class singers because the range required for White's Psalm motets is extreme and the writing sometimes a bit angular. I suspect that he wrote it either for the choir at Westminster or for the Chapel Royal. Of the two I think the Chapel Royal is the more likely both because of the nature of the text and because Elizabeth is known to have enjoyed Latin religious music. He starts the Psalm with a relatively sparse structure (in fact he does this for all his Psalm motets) which progresses into full-force polyphony that builds into an irresistible musical force. You can hear this particularly at the end (Domine, salvum fac regem … ) where what seems to be a standard divided verse section rapidly develops into a full-throated seven-part structure that nevertheless retains the gimell in the inner parts. The effect is quite spectacular – particularly in the triumphant final cadence. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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John Taverner (±1490–1545): Christe Jesu, pastor bone

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December 16, 2014

While the carols sung in Elizabethan England were often distinctly secular and in English, the music sung in the Cathedrals, at court, and in University Chapels was, despite the reformation, still permitted to be sung in Latin, of course making it crystal clear where your loyalties lay was also a very good idea. Taverner's Christe Jesu, pastor bone Jesu is a good example (as well of course as being very good music). Enjoy :-).

mfi

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