Posts Tagged ‘ Motets ’

Francisco de Peñalosa (±1470-1528): Ave verum corpus

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June 1, 2015

Francisco de Peñalosa is one those composers associated with the rise of Spain, with Ferdinand and Isabella and their royal chapels, and with the great cathedral choirs such as those of Toledo and Seville. Whenever I think of this period in Iberian history my thoughts turn to Juan de Anchieta, Pedro de Escobar, Juan del Encina and Francisco de Peñalosa. He was born some time around 1470 near Madrid and served in Ferdinand V of Aragon's chapel. He rose to be appointed maestro de capilla to Ferdinand's grandson in 1511 and was granted a benefice of Seville Cathedral. He's known to have been in Seville in 1516 after Ferdinand’s death, and to have lived in Rome from 1517 until 1525 when he returned to Seville where he remained until his death. His contemporaries greatly admired his music with Cristóbal de Villalón comparing him to Josquin which when one considers that some motets now known to be by him were at one time believed to be by Josquin is less unreasonable than it sounds. Certainly his music was influenced by Josquin and by the Flemish composers who worked for the Spanish monarchy. His Eucharistic motet Ave verum corpus is somewhat old-fashioned in it's style being entirely composed in plain chordal blocks, old fashioned perhaps but nevertheless beautiful. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611): Vadam et circuibo civitatem

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May 30, 2015

De Victoria published this lovely motet which takes its text from the Song of Songs in 1572. It's a six-part setting characterised by considerable variety in the rhythms and textures with which de Victoria decorates the linear homophony. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611): Ascendens Christus in altum

2
May 26, 2015

De Victoria write this gloriously festive motet for the feast of the Ascension. Its text is taken from the last Responsorium of the Second Nocturn of Matins for that day. He published it first in 1572 and it rapidly became one of his most popular motets being published no less than five times during his life. Twenty years after it was first published de Victoria used it as the basis for his setting of the Mass Missa Ascendens Christus in altum. It's a bright happy festive piece of music characterised by ascending motifs and wonderfully happy alleluias that perfectly reflect the text. It's set for five (SSATB) voices divided into two halves.  Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Jacquet de Mantua (1483 -1559): Aspice Domine

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May 20, 2015

Jacques Colebault or Jacquet de Mantua as he became known was a prolific French composer who spent most of his life in Italy serving the Church. Musically he's important first as one of the leading composers in the period between Josquin and Palestrina and secondly because he was enormously influential. Amongst his patrons were the Este family, Ercole Cardinal Gonzaga (President of the Council of Trent), and Popes Leo X and Clement VII. His works were widely published with collections of his works being published by Scotto and Gardane while music theorists such as Lanfranco, Vanneo, Artusi and Cerone all lauded his works as being equal to those of Gombert and Willaert. While younger composers such as  de Monte, Ruffo, Vaet, de Lassus, Merulo and last but by no means least Palestrina all drew inspiration from him using works of his as the basis of compositions of their own. Aspice Domine, which was first published in 1532 is the most famous of his motets is a good example of how widespread and influential his music was being found in more than forty sources, including no less than seven instrumental intabulations. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Giovanni Paolo Cima (1570- 1630): Gustate et videte

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May 19, 2015

Cima's contemporaries considered him to be an important and skilled composer on a par with Merulo or Monteverdi but because relatively little of his music has come down to us modern musicologists tend to discount as a composer of choral music. I think there are two main reasons for this. The first is that he plainly was more interested in instrumental music - it was Cima who pioneered the trio sonata which he did with verve and stylistic virtuosity. The second is that he seems to have been a genuinely humble man uninterested in the secular music and considerably less obsessed with getting his works published  than his contemporaries. Perhaps if he'd composed secular vocal music as well as instrumental music and music for the Church he'd be better-known today.

Stylistically I'd describe his vocal sacred music as a mix of moderate reformism and conservatism in which polyphony gradually gave way to some solo motets in a style, similar to Viadana's. Similar, but not identical, because Cima's music was far more influenced by contemporary secular vocal monody than that of Viadana. If you explore Cima's music you'll notice that he's very happy to experiment with declamation and to embelish his subjects with ornamentation. It's this mixture of Renaissance counterpoint and 17th-century avant-garde musical trends that makes his music so interesting he may not have left us much but that which he did leave distils one of the most musicaly complex and rich periods of European musical history down to its essence.

mfi

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