Christopher Gibbons (1615 – 1676): O Bone Jesu

A Latin-texted motet is, as you might expect, quite unusual amongst Gibbons’ compositions1. It’s very beautifully and expressively written and with an very special sound-world. The soprano hovers more than an octave over the three lower voices the effect of which is heightened by sharpened interjections. I found it a very striking piece of music…

John Taverner (±1490–1545): Te Deum

The Te Deum is a very ancient hymn that was sung at the end of Matins on Sundays and major feasts, it was also sung on special occasions of rejoicing or thanksgiving. Because of its length composers in Taverner’s time generally treated it the same way they would treat a psalm as an alternatim setting…

Jean Lhéritier (±1480—±1552): Magnificat

The first public performance in modern times of Jean L’Heritier’s Magnificat. Recorded live at the St. John Nepomucene Chapel at Sarny Castle, Aug 29, 2015. Performed by Men’s Vocal Ensemble Gregorianum, conducted by Berenika Jozajtis. This is a rarity amongst Lhéritier ‘s surviving works most of which arecomparatively short motets. Rarity or not like all…

Ēriks Ešenvalds (b1977): Psalm 67

Ešenvalds setting of Psalm 67 was premiered by Stephen Layton and Polyphony in Amsterdam in 2012  a very traditional Anglican chant sounding baritone solo is responded to by the full choir singing a very chordal setting of the text. It’s very chromatic writing which shifts and mixes mood between praise and apprehension. The chant melody…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Tribue Domine

When Queen Mary died the Catholic Church as the spiritual home of the English people rapidly followed her into the grave. No doubt the more strongly protestant wing of the reformers hoped that the practice of setting Latin texts to music for religious purposes would quickly become a thing of the past and had Edward…

Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876): Who can express the noble acts of the Lord? – Paul Phoenix soloist

Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810–1876) was the illegitimate son of Samuel Wesley (1766–1837) and his housekeeper, Sarah Suter, the Sebastian part of his name is in honour of Johann Sebastian Bach whose music his father loved. Despite the stigma of being illegitimate –  which was an almost insurmountable obstacle in late nineteenth century,  Britain he became…

Heinrich Schütz (1585–1672): Jauchzet dem Herren

To my mind Schütz is the most important composer in Germany before the advent of Johann Sebastian Bach. His family wanted him to be a lawyer but fortunately for him (and for us) in 1608 the Landgrave of Moritz gave him money to travel to Venice and study music under Giovanni Gabrieli. At that time…

Antonio Lotti (±1667-1740): Crucifixus a 8

Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato. Passus et sepultus est. He was indeed crucified for us at the hands of Pontius Pilate. He died and was buried. We remember Lotti today mostly for his eight-part setting (SSAATTBB) of the Crucifixus. But in fact he was a prolific composer who (as you might expect of…

Giaches de Wert (1535-96): Providebam Dominum

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…