John Taverner (c1490-1545): Magnificat a 4 Nesciens Mater

Taverner composed three Magnificats, one each for four, five and six voices, of which only the four-voice setting survives complete. It’s a little unusual for English polyphony of the time because Taverner used the plainsong without embellishment rather than using the ‘faburden’. It’s an alternatim setting in which plainsong and polyphony alternate. Its long textual…

Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611): Veni Creator Spiritus

Victoria set many hymns amongst them this four-part (SATB) setting of the Office hymn for Pentecost ‘Veni creator spiritus‘ which literally translates as ‘Come creator spirit’ but is often translated as ‘Come, Holy Ghost, Creator, come’. Listening to it may be the cause of some surprise amongst those who associate Victoria only with the austere…

Richard Davy (±1465-1538): Stabat Mater

Richard Davy is one of the most important composers represented in the Eton Choirbook where no less than nine compositions by him are to be found. It’s thought that he came from Devon but of his early life nothing is known. The first reliable record of him is as a scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford…

João Lourenço Rebelo (1610 – 1661): Super Aspidem

João Lourenço Rebelo’s music represents the coming of Baroque to Portugal. Born in 1610 in Caminha he was taken as a boy servant into the chapel of the Duke of Bragança at Vila Viçosa. The Duke sponsored his musical studies including at the Colégio dos Santos Reis Magos under Roberto Tornar. Another of Tornar’s pupils…

Sunday Playlist: Henry Purcell (1659-1695): Love’s Goddess Sure was Blind – The Sixteen, The Symphony of Harmony and Invention

‘Love’s Goddess Sure was Blind’ the ode for Queen Mary’s Birthday, 1692 is Purcell’s fourth birthday Ode for Queen Mary II. It’s perhaps the most tender and intimate of the six birthday Odes and is scored strings and paired recorders. It starts with one of Purcell’s finest symphonies which is in two sections and characterised…

William Mundy (c1529-1591): Sive vigilem

William Mundy (father of John Mundy) seems to have lived and worked only in London. His career spanned the Reformation under Henry VII and Edward VI, Queen Mary’s doomed and bloody attempt at undoing the Reformation, and Queen Elizabeth I’s re-establishment of the English Church with herself as its head. His motet "Sive vigilem" is…

John Sheppard (c1515-1558): Jesu salvator saeculi verbum

Jesu salvator saeculi, verbum is a hymn composed by the Tudor Era English composer John Sheppard (c1515-1558) for what was called "Low Sunday". "Low Sunday" is the first Sunday after Easter, nobody is quite sure where the name came from but the traditional explanation that the name indicates the contrast between it and the great…

Thomas Crecquillon (c1505-c1557): Congratulamini mihi

Thomas Crecquillon’s (c1505-c1557) motet ‘Congratulamini mihi’ ("Rejoice with me") is his musical depiction of Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the risen Christ. It was greatly admired by Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599) who based one of his Masses upon it. Perhaps it’s difficult for us who live in a culture where most people place emphasis on a thoroughly…