Posts Tagged ‘ Religious Music ’

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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Jacob Handl (1550–1591): Resonet in laudibus

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January 4, 2016

The printing of Resonet in laudibus in the 1582 Swedish songbook Piae Cantiones.

The printing of Resonet in laudibus in the 1582 Swedish songbook Piae Cantiones.

Handl was born in Slovenia and educated in both Melk and Vien­na. He asked for and got a sab­bat­ical and for the four years bet­ween 1575 and 1579 he wan­dered around Austria, Moravia, Bohemia and Silesia, living in monasteries and studying the music he heard on his travels tak­ing the op­por­tun­ity to "un­derstand the muse and meditate on the shep­herd’s pipe".  He wound up as can­tor of St Jan na Brzehu, Prague, where he re­mained until his death adding more pieces to his already vast output. His setting of Resonet in laudibus takes a Piae Cantiones tune that was already well-known and popular throughout the central European lands and adds some really rather beautiful harmonisation to it, the effect is delightful alas it's all too brief. Enjoy :—).

mfi

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Philippe de Monte (1521-1603): Asperges me, Domine

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December 4, 2015

De Monte was remarkable not only for the quality of his music but also for how much of it he produced. During his career he published thirty-four(!) books of mad­rig­als, thirty-eight Mass sett­ings, around 250 motets, and 144 mad­rigali spirituali. He spent most of his career working for the Hapsburgs winding up as Kapellmeist­er to the Em­perors Maximilian II and Rudolf II as well as having served Philip II of Spain.

Despite having spent time in Philip's service and despite having some very distinguished Spanish contemporaries there's surprisingly little Spanish influence in his work. His setting of the antiphon is a case in point. It's an antiphon sung during the brief penitential rite that precedes the Mass.  The text consists of verses from Psalm 50 and a doxology and Spanish practice was to set it as chant followed by polyphony that followed the chant very closely. De Monte followed the Spanish practice to an extent his five-part polyphony follows each intonation but instead of sticking closely to the chant for his polyphony he strikes out on his own to remarkable effect. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Francisco de Peñalosa (±1470-1528): Tribularer, si nescirem

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December 1, 2015

I like Francisco de Peñalosa's motets and over time plan on uploading more of them. Originally I planned on uploading the excellent performance by Pro Cantione Antiqua conducted by Bruno Turner but while I was researching this posting I came across this a wonderful performance of his rather beautiful motet Tribularer, si nescirem (I would be downcast) by Ensemble Gilles Binchois and Les Sacqueboutiers. I've uploaded one and embedded the other so that you can compare the two performances. (The Ensemble Gilles Binchois' performance with its accompaniment is probably closer to how it would have been performed in Peñalosa's day). The motet's text is very typical of what you'd expect to find in one of the cheaply produced devotional books known as horae — Books of Hours, that were wildly popular during Peñalosa's time. These contained texts devoted to Marian, Eucharistic and Penitential subjects and quite a few of these were set to music by Peñalosa and his contemporaries. Tribularer, si nescirem's text in which the author takes comfort from Christ's stated desire that sinners should turn away from their wickedness and goes on to list sinners – the woman of Canaan, the publican, and St. Peter whose repentance won them Christ's compassion is very typical of the Genre. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Alonso Lobo (1555-1617): Ave Maria

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November 17, 2015
The Chapel of St. Blaise, Toledo Cathedral.

The Chapel of St. Blaise, Toledo Cathedral.

Lobo's eight-part setting of the Marian antiphon Ave Maria is one of seven motets that he published in 1602 while employed at Toledo Cathedral. It's an astounding piece of music that's based on a scheme of complex 8-in-4 canonical writing in which the lower voices of two SATB choirs sing the same music but the three upper voices swap places in response. The result of this is to generate  four more voices from the original quartet. If that sounds complex it is! But the result is remarkably beautiful with all the strands coming together to present a seemingly seamless whole. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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