John Sheppard (c1515–December 1558): Media Vita

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…

Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599): O lux beata Trinitas

Francisco Guerrero became the most influential and respected composer in Spain in the time of Philip II. Trained first by his brother and then tutored by Cristóbal de Morales he was a versatile and gifted musician who not only sang and composed but was an excellent player of the organ, vihuela, harp and cornett. Stylistically…

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (±1525-1594): Stabat Mater

Palestrina’s ‘Stabat Mater’ was written around 1589 and is that musical paradox a miniature on a grand scale written in the Venetian polychoral style. It’s harmonies are modal which gives an atmosphere of nostalgia and regret to Palestrina’s word painting. It’s the musical equivalent of the paintings of the grieving mother at the foot of…

Robert Parsons (circa 1535-1572): Magnificat

"Robt. Parsons was drowned at Newark uppon Trent the 25th of Januarie, and Wm. Bird sworne gentleman in his place at the first the 22d of Februarie followinge, A° 14° Lincolne". We don’t know why Robert Parsons, Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, was travelling near Newark on that fateful night in January 1572 but it…

Thomas Tallis Loquebantur variis linguis – YouTube

Tallis’ motet Loquebantur variis linguis is a polyphonic responsory of the type created and established in the repertoire by Taverner. It’s a Pentecostal motet (as can immediately be seen from the text and translation which I give below) and is characterised by a tenor cantus firmus around which the six other voices create a polyphonic…

John Taverner (c1490-1545): Missa Mater Christi sanctissima

Taverner starts each movement of his Missa Mater Christi sanctissima with opening of his  antiphon "Mater Christi sanctissima" about which I wrote yesterday. It’s a very direct and up-beat setting that celebrates its subject. It’ also a later work which means it’s far less florid than his youthful compositions. Enjoy :-). markfromireland

For Laura: Morten Lauridsen (b1943): Ave, dulcissima Maria

Ave, dulcissima Maria was commissioned by the Harvard University Glee Club and completed in 2005. It’s a beautifully tender and gentle setting of a variant of the ‘Ave Maria’ petition. It’s sung below by Polyphony  whose singing brings out the serene almost otherwordly qualities of the piece. The player of the  finger cymbals on this…

Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611) : Salve regina a 8

Tomás Luis de Victoria stands shoulder to shoulder with other musical giants of his age such as Byrd, de Lassus, Palestrina, and Tallis, while his output was relatively small – Palestrina for example published five times as much music as Victoria did, de Lassus published even more, and of the four only Victoria published no…

Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611): Veni Creator Spiritus

Victoria set many hymns amongst them this four-part (SATB) setting of the Office hymn for Pentecost ‘Veni creator spiritus‘ which literally translates as ‘Come creator spirit’ but is often translated as ‘Come, Holy Ghost, Creator, come’. Listening to it may be the cause of some surprise amongst those who associate Victoria only with the austere…

Pierre de Manchicourt (±1510-1564): Laudate Dominum

Pierre de Manchicourt was born in Béthune in Northern France he spent most of his career in Northern France holding increasingly senior positions at Tours, Tournai, and Arras from where his fame and music spread. That his music was highly esteemed by his contemporaries can be seen from the fact that he was the only…

Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Sermone blando angelus

 Sermone blando angelus is a hymn that under the Sarum rite usage which prevailed in England until Henry VIII abolished it would have been sung in English churches and monasteries during Lauds between Low Sunday (the first Sunday after Easter Sunday) and the Feast of the Ascension. Tallis intended his setting of the hymn to…