Posts Tagged ‘ Motets ’

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Levemus corda

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August 7, 2015

Byrd's five-part (ATTBB) setting of Lamentations 3: 41-2 from the 1591 Cantiones. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Josquin Des Prez (±1450 – 1521): Planxit autem David

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August 6, 2015

Josquin Signature 180x143 This is one of those pieces of music whose purpose and context are a mystery to us. The text is a slightly modified version of the biblical verses (2 Samuel 1: 17-27) in which David laments Saul and Jonathan so there's no discernible liturgical connection. If it's not liturgical then, given the nature of the text and Josquin's intense musical response to it some kind of political event, such as the death of a politically important male was most likely the cause of Josquin's motet not least because Josquin binds the four movements together by regularly quoting the Gregorian reciting-tone for the Lamentations of Jeremiah. Structurally it's also  a bit of a puzzle because while its in four movements those four movements must follow one after another to reflect the seamless nature of the text, so the structure is very unitary despite it being in four parts. None of these puzzles should distract us from the fact that it's very beautiful. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Francisco Guerrero ( 1528 – 1599): Prudentes virgines

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July 28, 2015

Francisco Guerrero's five-part motet Prudentes virgines (wise virgins) sets a text based on the Gospel parable of the ten virgins (the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins) it was first published in Venice in 1570.  Guerrero was greatly admired by his contemporaries not least Alonso Lobo who based his Missa Prudentes virgines upon Guerrero's motet. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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

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July 24, 2015

Historiated initial accompanying hymns to  the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Source: Compendium morale of Roger de Waltham (d. 1336).  Unknown artist. Location: University of Glasgow Library.

Historiated initial accompanying hymns to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Source: Compendium morale of Roger de Waltham (d. 1336).
Unknown artist.
Location: University of Glasgow Library.

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 and a musician and it's no exaggeration to say that he dominated French poetry and music for several generations after his death. His four-part setting of the Marian motet Inviolata Genetrix (Virgin mother) is a typical Marian intercessionary motet of its period in which the Virgin, who was seen as a more approachable figure than Christ, is asked to protect her devotees to intercede for them in the dire straits in which they find themselves:

"help us decisively
for we perish,
we are violently attacked
but are feebly defended,"

(The reference is to the ravages of the 100 years war). It's an unusual piece of music that sounds very unfamiliar to modern ears but which repays the effort made. It's also unusual amongst Machaut's motets firstly because it is a four-part setting (motetus, triplem, contratenor and tenor) with contratenor and tenor singing the same text, and secondly because it's in Latin and Machaut set mostly French secular texts. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Henri Dumont (±1610 – 1684): Panis Angelicus

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July 23, 2015

Du Mont was born near Liège in what is now Belgium he was educated at the Jesuit college and  the choir school of Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk in Maastricht but spent most of his life in France where, from 1660 on he filled a variety of posts at the court serving in turn the King's brother, queen Marie-Thérèse, and ultimately Louis XIV himself as sous-maître  of the Chapelle-Royale where he remained until 1683. He's mostly remembered for his motets in particular his grands motets of which more than eighty survive. But he could also write very beautiful and very intimate petits motets as his setting of the last two verses of  Sacris Solemnis which you can hear below shows. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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