Posts Tagged ‘ Polyphony ’

Heinrich Isaac (±1450 –1517): Missa De Apostolis

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June 16, 2014

I can't tell you very much about this very prolific South Netherlands composer's early life neither his birthday which could be any time during the five-year period 1450-55 nor his birthplace are known. He was a layman who and appears not to have attended university what he was was a very accomplished composer some of whose music was being published in Innsbruck by the mid 1470s. He worked variously for Duke Sigismund of Austria, the baptistry of S Giovanni in Florence, Florence Cathedral the Servite friary of SS Annunziata and Lorenzo de Medici. His work for the Medicis seems to have included acting as teacher to Piero and Giovanni de Medici  (Giovanni de Medici became Pope Leo X in 1513 ) both of whom became his patrons. The changing political circumstances in Italy led him to seek employment elsewhere and he wound up working for Maxilmillian I for a while. However his Medici patrons did not forget him and arranged for him to become provost of the chapter of Florence Cathedral. He died in Florence in 1517. His music is both beautiful and interesting but it's as a teacher that he was most influential – the list of his pupils includes such names to conjure with as Adam Rener, Balthasar Resinarius,  Petrus Tritonius, and last but by no means least Ludwig Senfl.

His Missa De Apostolis was written for the Viennese court and is based on on a selection of Gregorian chants taken from the repertoire of the Feast of the Apostles (which is why it doesn't include a Credo as Viennese practice was not to set the Credo). It has a six-voice texture which was very unusual for the period and is an alternatim setting, it's a very terse piece whose constant alternation between chant and polyphony means that many of the polyphonic sections consist only of a single phrase. Isaac solved the musical problems that this brevity presented by making heavy – and spectacular, use of both of sonority and dissonant cadential writing. It's almost English in its sound. Enjoy :-)

markfromireland

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Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Mihi autem nimis

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May 20, 2014

Tallis' Latin motet Mihi autem nimis is based on an introit text and would have been sung on any any of the feasts dedicated to the Apostles or the conversion of St. Paul. It was published in the 1575 Cantiones Sacræ. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

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Gabriel Jackson (1962–): To Morning, ‘O holy virgin! clad in purest white’

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May 5, 2014

Gabriel Jackson Gabriel Jackson's five-part setting of William Blake's poem 'To Morning' is one of my favourite examples of a modern composer achieving a perfect match between his text and his music. I love how he treats his topic here – the way in which the tiny speck on the horizon is enticed lovingly with musical caresses to draw nearer and nearer and how as the dawn draws closer and closer the choir trumpets the growing light that 'Rous'd' like a huntsman to the chase' appears 'upon our hills'. How better to start a week? You'll find it below, together with its text and performer information. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

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Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla (±1590 – 1664): Deus in adiutorium

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April 2, 2014

Deus in adiutorium is an introductory versicles intended to be sung during various Offices. It's a cry to God for help from the faithful and De Padilla's setting, a simple plainsong intonation, is very typical of the use to which plainsong was put in Spain and its colonies at the time.

markfromireland

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John Sheppard (c1515–December 1558): Media Vita

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March 25, 2014

Sheppard's music is not as popular as that of his contemporaries – I think this is a shame as he's right up there alongside his better-known contemporaries Taverner, Tye, White, and even Tallis. If you want to hear Tudor era music of breathtaking beauty and originality then Sheppard's compositions surely fit the bill. Media Vita is his undoubted masterpiece its sheer breadth of phrasing and expressiveness coupled with stunning sonorities and a remarkably deft hand with dissonance always stops me in my tracks. It's been recorded a few times – I think the most recent recording is by Stile Antico, but the recording below was the first and the one I find that I come back to time and time again.

markfromireland

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