Posts Tagged ‘ Motets ’

Nicolas Gombert (±1495-±1560): Musae Jovis

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February 3, 2016

Nicolas Gombert's  "Deploration on the death of Josquin Desprez" is a motet-chanson set in the Phrygian mode. You may sometimes see it referred to as an Ars combinatoria composition which means quite simply that a secular text is combined with a Latin cantus firmus sung by one of the tenor voices in long drawn out notes. In this case the cantus firmus is supplied by the Good Friday response "Circumdederunt me gemitus mortis, dolores inferni circumdederent me" (Laments of death have surrounded me, pains of hell have surrounded me)  Gombert takes this theme and weaves some very elaborate counterpoint around it as the singers lament Josquin's passing and the injustice of death.  This use of the cantus firmus which Gombert transposes down beginning on E rather than F is a very explicit homage to Josquin who used exactly this technique in his own homage to a deceased composer Nymphes des bois the homage is all the more marked because Gombert very rarely employed the cantus firmus technique. The intent is very clear rendering homage to a master mourned by all but the style is definitely Gombert's own the counterpoint woven around the cantus firmus is far less formal than something Josquin might have written and ebbs and flows far more – thereby maintaining both musical interest and a somewhat meditative tone. It concludes with some triple time writing marking Josquin's transposition to the heavens. Enjoy :-).

mfi.

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Francisco de Peñalosa (±1470-1528): Nigra sum, sed formosa

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January 28, 2016

Renaissance composers were very taken with the possibilities of setting texts from the Song of Songs and de Peñalosa was no exception. This three-part setting of Nigra Sum is to mind some of his most beautiful work.  Enjoy :-).

mfi

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John Blow (1649-1708): Salvator mundi, salva nos

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January 21, 2016

John Blow portrait captioned small Many things changed drastically in England once the Puritan government fell and the monarchy under Charles II was restored. Among the things that changed was that Church music was suddenly allowable again. Among the things that didn't change was the fact that Latin texts remained distinctly non grata in Anglican churches. This didn't stop Purcell and Blow1 from composing a few pieces of sacred music in Latin most likely for performance in private. One of these motets is Blow's setting of Salvator mundi, salva nos (O saviour of the world, save us,) which takes its text from the Office of the Visitation of the Sick.

It's a wonderfully vivid and responsive piece of music – Blow went to very considerable lengths indeed to match his music to the text, in particular his "dramatic use of the tonally distant B major chord toward the end of the first section" to which he added suspensions, chromaticism, and inversion of pedal points to further achieve the desired effects. The result is surprisingly modern sounding and perhaps in part because of that despite its original private intent it's now firmly ensconced in the repertoires of Anglican cathedral and college choirs.

Enjoy :-)

mfi

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William Byrd (±1539-1623): Factus Est Repente – Merbecke Choir

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January 16, 2016

Factus Est Repente, by William Byrd - a communion motet for Pentecost, from Byrd's Gradualia II, 1607, number 35.

This performance is by the Merbecke Choir, directed by Huw Morgan, at Southwark Cathedral on 20 November 2012, as part of a poetry evening hosted by the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy.
Photos by Marcos Avlonitis.

Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Giac­hes de Wert (1535-96): Providebam Dominum

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January 14, 2016

De Wert was a Fleming who worked in Northern Italy for most of his life. 1 He had a very considerable influence both during his lifetime and for many generations after his death not least because of his strong influence on Claudio Mon­tever­di studied under him. He was a renowned madrigalist and his approach to the madrigalian form shows a very inventive and original use of rhythm.

Providebam Dominum (I foresaw the Lord) is his setting of Acts 2:25-28 it's somewhat unusual amongst his motets because he uses two techniques to represent joy and rejoicing there's a fairly straightforward and  conventional triple time passage at "propter hoc lætátum est cor meum, et exsultávit lingua mea" (For this my heart hath been glad, and any tongue hath rejoiced) and then towards the end when we get to "replébis me iucunditáte" ( thou shalt make me full of joy) he uses what is almost his signature technique of employing rapidly shifting madrigalian style singing a crossing over from secular to sacred music which must have greatly shocked his contemporaries hearing it for the first time. It must have caused consternation amongst those required to sing it for the first time too. Happily for us the singers of Collegium Regale under Stephen Cleobury are more than equal to the challenge. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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