Posts Tagged ‘ Religious Music ’

Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672): Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott SWV447

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February 26, 2015

Right throughout the seventeenth century German church music in general and the the cantata in particular was heavily dependent upon Italy for inspiration. At the start of the century Heinrich Schütz and Michael Praetorius were greatly impressed by Venetian polychoral music and transmitted their enthusiasm to their fellow Germans, so complete was the penetration of the Italian model of German musical consciousness that long after the Italians abandoned it polychoral music continued to be popular with German congregations and German composers continued to produce it to satisfy demand. However during the 1620s and '30s a new Italian style swept through Germany, like the polychoral style it originated at the Dresden court and like the polychoral its principal originator was Heinrich Schütz. 

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Choral Vespers | Westminster Cathedral | 8th October 2014

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February 22, 2015

BBC Radio 3 Choral Vespers from Westminster Cathedral, 8th October 2014

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John Taverner (±1490—1545): O splendor gloriae

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February 18, 2015

Taverner's Jesus antiphon O splendor gloriae probably dates from Taverner's later years in Boston and was most likely a commission from the Boston Guild of Corpus Christi, to Taverner he belonged. It's composed on a very grand scale but the scale in no way detracts from the clarity of its texture. Taverner made heavy use of imitation when he was writing it and also  made use of repetition in the latter part of the piece. In doing so he was further laying the groundwork for English sacred music to move away from the abstract melismatic style that still prevailed towards a more modern direct expressiveness that reflected the text. It represents a move away from medievalism to a renaissance sensibility. All of this is within a very English structure that exploits the high tessitura treble to maximum effect. If ever there was a work that testifies to the extraordinarily high standards of pre-reformation English choristers that Taverner and his fellow composers could take for granted this is it. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707): Wenn ich, Herr Jesu, habe dich (BuxWV 102)

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February 3, 2015

The text of Wenn ich, Herr Jesu, habe dich(BuxWV 102) (If I have you Lord Jesus) is a devotional poetic text by Anna Sophia, Countess of Hessen-Darmstadt Buxtehude set it twice once here, as a hymn, and then again as part of his cantata Herr, wenn ich nur dich habe (BuxWV 39) .  The hymn (BuxWV 102), which is the subject of this posting is one of a number of arias that Buxtehude wrote whose texts he took from  seventeenth-century hymnals. The hymns as originally found were in a very simple style, and this very simplicity must have been part of what attracted Buxtehude to them as it meant they provided him with material that was known and loved by his audiences while simultaneously providing him with an almost clear musical canvas on which to work his musical magic. His scoring for this aria calls for two violins in addition to alto and basso continuo and the structure is interesting. There's an introductory sinfonia, the strophe, and a a ritornello at the end of each strophe. So far so  unsurprising, the text is in the hymnals strictly strophic, and Buxtehude retained this strict strophic form which he then proceeded to adapt and ornament by disrupting the text's flow with repetitions and melismas the effect is both charming and devout and must have greatly pleased his audiences. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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William Byrd (±1539-1623): Deficit in dolore

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January 26, 2015

Byrd's AATTB motet Deficit in dolore (Wasted in grief) takes its text from the psalms and free text he published it in the 1589 Cantiones sacrae. Like much in that book Byrd selected and arranged the texts to describe personal suffering before expressing hope. 

mfi

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