Posts Tagged ‘ Psalms ’

Andreas Hammerschmidt (1612-1675): Sonata super: Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren

0
February 19, 2015

Hammerschmidt was an organist and composer who survived the hardships caused by the Thirty Years War to become a wealthy and successful man admired and respected by his contemporaries – Schütz and Rist both wrote poems lauding him and his music. He was a prolific composer mostly of sacred vocal and choral music publishing more than 400 such works in 14 collections. Most of his works are concertatos and he himself classified his works as either motets, concertos or arias. There's a strong Italianate tinge to much of  his music which as he never travelled to Italy I suspect he got from Schütz. That being said it would be a mistake to write him off as "school of" his music may have been influenced by the Italians and by Schütz but he was a vigorous and original composer with a distinctive musical voice of his own. The present work his Sonata super: Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren is very Italianate it could be inspired by Schütz but I think it more likely that it takes its inspiration directly from Monteverdi's Sonata sopra Sancta Maria ora pro nobis. Whichever is the case it's a beautiful setting of the first two verses Johann Gramann's hymn paraphrasing Psalm 102  (103) in its own right. Enjoy :-).

mfi

Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

Jacobus Clemens non Papa (±1510 – ± 1555): Tristitia obsedit me

0
January 29, 2015

Girolamo SavonarolaThe text of this motet Tristitia obsedit me is based on Savanarola's unfinished meditation on Psalm 31. Savanarola ran foul of the Pope and Florence's rulers, was arrested, tortured, and condemned to death. While awaiting execution he composed two meditations on the Psalms. Infelix Ego a meditation on Psalm 51 and this one which Savanarola didn't manage to finish. Both were published after his death and their affirmation of faith following torture and in the face of imminent death along with his other writings were hugely influential throughout Europe.  In his setting Clemens non Papa took  Savanarola's text and condensed and conflated it to create a motet with two distinct sections. The first deals with Savanarola's despair while the second treats of his return to faith and hope and his appeal to God for mercy and forgiveness. Even allowing for the changes he made it must have been a difficult task to set the text but Clemens non Papa succeeded brilliantly by making heavy use of closely spaced imitative repetition to produce a vivid and remarkably fervent piece of music. The effect on his contemporaries – who would have been well aware of the text's religious and political import, must have been stunning. Enjoy :-).

mfi

Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Teach Me, O Lord

0
January 2, 2015

It must have been an agonising experience for Byrd to see his hopes for the five-year English Catholic renaissance of 1553–58 dashed with the death of Queen Mary. A devout, and stubborn Catholic he was to live the remainder of his life under protestant monarchs. Fortunately for him, and for us, he managed the difficult and dangerous balancing act of remaining a faithful and practising Catholic while simultaneously rising to be a pillar of the Elizabethan musical establishment. Having Elizabeth as his protector undoubtedly helped! It may seem strange that such a devout Catholic produced such beautiful music for protestant services and "Teach me, O Lord" a setting of verses from Psalm 119 is very beautiful.

Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

Jacob Regnart (±1540-1599): Quare tristis es, anima mea?

0
July 28, 2014

Jacob Regnart's setting of words from Psalm 42 is quite unusual in that the setting is at variance with the text. The words are meant to be reassuring but Regnart, for whatever reason. chose instead to emphasise the soul's grief rather than God's comfort. He starts with a disconcerting tonality which migrates almost into a lament. I find myself wondering whether he intended it as a Lenten motet his use of Phrygian tones make the possibility seems quite likely to me.

mfi

Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

William Child (1606-1697): O praise the Lord

0
July 15, 2014

William Child is largely forgotten today and when musicologists do discuss his music they tend to dismiss it as unimaginative and utilitarian. I very much doubt though that that is what his contemporaries and his successors, who included Blow and Purcell thought. We may today be grateful for our rich inheritance of music from Blow, Purcell, but it was Child who laid the groundwork for them by singledhandedly producing a vast output of church music for the Anglican church as it struggled to make a new start and re-establish its traditions after the 1660 restoration of the monarchy. His music served as a model for the first generation of Restoration composers and both Blow and Purcell thought sufficiently highly of his music to transcribe it and develop it further  for example by developing the aria-recitative structure which much of his music anticipates. His importance then is as a model but not only as a model, granted he wasn't a genius but even the most run-of-the-mill of his compositions are eminently listenable to and at his best his music shows both vitality and sensitivity to the the texts he was setting. I think it unfair to dismiss his music as nothing more than a way-point between Gibbons and Blow it's more accurate to see him as the first Restoration composer as the man who paved the way for Blow and Purcell. His anthem 'O Praise the Lord', a setting of the first four verses of Psalm 135, was 'Composed Upon the Restauration of the Church And Royall Family in 1660' and marks the start of the climb to greatness of English church music as it recovered from the devastation wrought upon it by the Puritans.  Enjoy :-).

mfi

Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...

Archives

Special Pages