William Mundy (±1529-1591): The secret sins

Mundy wrote The secret sins fairly late on in life it’s an early example of a piece in which a single voice with an independent accompaniment is echoed by a choir singing as one. The model for this novelty was most likely the choirboy plays performed by boys from St Paul’s, the Chapel Royal, and…

Jacquet de Mantua (1483 -1559): O pulcherrima inter mulieres

This three-part (SSA) motet is one of a collection of motets entitled Motetta trium vocum for three voices  by several composers1 including Jacquet de Mantua published in Venice in 1543 by Antonio Gardano. It’s a bitter-sweet setting whose text using imagery from the Song of Songs reflects the emotional anguish that can be caused by…

Peter Philips (±1560-1628): O quam suavis

This is the second of two settings by Philips of O quam suavis the Magnificat Antiphon for First Vespers on the Feast of Corpus Christi, it’s an eight-part (SATB.SATB) setting  and was published in the 1613 in the first edition of his Cantiones sacrae octonis vocibus. The setting is a bit unusual in that he…

Robert Fayrfax (1464-1521): Magnificat super O bone Jesu

Fayrfax’s 5-part (treble, mean, contratenor, tenor and bass) setting of the Magnificat takes a now lost antiphon O bone Jesu(O good Jesus) as its starting point. It’s and alternatim setting with Fayrfax setting only the even-numbered verses leaving the odd-numbered ones as chant. Like most of his music it combines clarity with some very complex…

Antoine Brumel (±1460 — ±1513): Sicut lilium inter spinas

His contemporaries ranked Brumel’s music highly comparing him favourably with both Josquin and Ockeghem. His four-part (SATB or ATTB) setting of Sicut lilium inter spinas (As the lily among thorns) Song of Solomon 2: 2 which at that time was the Antiphon for Matins of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is quite typical…

Luca Marenzio (±1554 – 1599): O Rex gloriae

Luca Marenzio, better known for his madrigals than his sacred music although he did produce one book of sacred madrigals his Motectorum pro festis totius anni in 1585 from which this setting of  O Rex gloriae (O King of glory) the Antiphon to the Magnificat for Second Vespers at Ascension comes. It’s a four-part setting…

Benedetto Marcello (1686–1739): Dulcis Jesu Mater cara

Bendetto Marcello’s reputation has been eclipsed by that of Vivaldi and the other professional musicians of his era his music is now largely forgotten. Its obscurity is our loss for Marcello’s music was greatly admired and rightly so by Bach, Telemann, Locatelli, Avison and Goethe, and in later times Cherubini, Rossini and Verdi. The ‘Nobile…

Jacquet of Mantua (1483-1559): Ave Maria

Jacquet of Mantua was born Jacques Colebault in Vitré, Brittany, in 148 he’s referred to as Jacquet of Mantua to distinguish him from another composer Jacquet de Berchem. He was yet another northerner who went south to Italy where he worked for a variety of patrons amongst the Rangoni of Modena, the Estes, until in…