Posts Tagged ‘ Tudor Music ’

William Mundy (±1529-1591): Adhaesit pavimento

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January 15, 2016

William Mundy's six-part (SSATBB) psalm motet Adhaesit pavimento sets verses from psalm 119 (118 in the Vulgate) gets its name from verse twenty five Adhaesit pavimento anima mea (My soul has cleaved to the dust) which is its first line. English composers of Mundy's generation were well aware of Josquin's psalm settings and sought to emulate them at least a couple of times. Mundy's psalm settings are, I think, some of his most beautiful music. Adhaesit pavimento consists of very densely woven through-composed polyphony that's inspired by continental psalmody but which is nevertheless distinctively English. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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William Mundy (±1529-1591): Evening Canticles

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January 8, 2016

Mundy is one of those Tudor composers about whom we know almost nothing. His career spanned the entirety of the English reformation, the Henrician overthrow of the Catholic church, the Edwardian intensification of reform, the Marian reaction, and Elizabeth II's re-entrenchment of the Anglican church, Mundy saw them all. His contemporaries thought very well of him and his musical abilities his music encapsulates English music of the period and deserves to be far better known. If you contrast his career with those of his great contemporaries you'll see what I mean Taverner, Tye, Tallis and Sheppard were all older than him and their compositional technique was largely settled by time the religious turmoil started. By contrast Byrd, Morley and, going forward a bit Weelkes, Gibbons and Tomkins had no compositional experience of the status quo ante whilst amongst his near contemporaries the two who stand out Robert Parsons and Robert White both died young. Only Mundy encapsulates the entire period and I think its fair to say that at his best he crowns it. How I wish that more of his music had survived. To judge from his Cathedral music he seems to have had both the taste and the aptitude for large-scale works. You can hear what I mean below in his settings of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis which represent not only Mundy's largest-scale English work but are in fact the most ambitious by any sixteenth century composer ten-parts (SAATB.SAATB) plus organ! My God. He must have set the evening canticles for a special occasion and for a special establishment – presumably the Chapel Royal. It's beautiful music and unusual not only for its scale but also because of how he contrasted the solo and full voices, his inclusion of a separate solo group between the 'decani' and 'cantoris' sides of the choir, and last but by stretch of the imagination least his use of trebles. It's magnificent and must have both startled and impressed its intended audience. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Robert Fayrfax (1464-1521): Most clere of colour

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January 7, 2016

When we think of English renaissance sung music we tend to think in terms of the large-scale polyphonic music written for cathedrals, colleges, and the Chapel Royal. Certainly this music is worthy of our fullest attention but it would be a mistake to ignore the chamber-song repertory of the time. Much of it is both beautiful and technically very demanding – it can be a beast to sing even for the most skilled singers but oh how wonderful when they bring it off. Fayrfax's Most clere of colour  which like all of his secular songs is a love song. It's a three-part setting divided into two sections found in the Fayrfax manuscript. The text describes the beloved's beauty which in turn is mirrored by the clarity and beauty of the music. It concludes with some very demanding melismatic writing. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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William Byrd (±1539-1623): Vidimus stellam ejus in Oriente a4

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January 6, 2016

Painting: Journey of the Three Magi to Bethlehem Date: 1638-40 Technique: Oil on panel, 79 x 107 cm Location: New York Historical Society, New York Artist: Leonaert Bramer (1596-1674) Bramer was a highly successful artist who spent his entire life in Delft. He seems to have had a particular talent for painting night scenes - he's known to have produced several hundred of them of which this one which depicts the arrival of the Magi is one. The Magi are preceded by torch-bearing angels who light their way. They've either arrived at the stable in Bethlehem or are close enough to dismount.

Painting: Journey of the Three Magi to Bethlehem Date: 1638-40 Technique: Oil on panel, 79 x 107 cm Location: New York Historical Society, New York Artist: Leonaert Bramer (1596-1674) Bramer was a highly successful artist who spent his entire life in Delft. He seems to have had a particular talent for painting night scenes - he's known to have produced several hundred of them of which this one which depicts the arrival of the Magi is one. The Magi are preceded by torch-bearing angels who light their way. They've either arrived at the stable in Bethlehem or are close enough to dismount.

Byrd published his four-part (AATB) Communion motet Vidimus stellam ejus in Oriente (For we have seen his star in the East) in the Gradualia of 1607. The text is from Matthew 2:2 and is proper to the celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord which falls on January 6th and marks the end of the twelve days of Christmas. This feast is one of the oldest Christian feasts and celebrates various events all of which commemorate Christ revealing himself or being revealed to others, in this case to the Magi – the three wise men. Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Feature: Henry VII – Pastime With Good Company – The King’s Singers

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November 30, 2015

‘Pastime with good company’: by Henry VIII in the the Henry VIII Songbook, British Library

‘Pastime with good company’: by Henry VIII in the the Henry VIII Songbook, British Library

What do you think of when you think of Henry VII? His desperation to consolidate the Tudor dynasty by producing a son? The low survival rate amongst his wives? The dissolution and looting of the monasteries? Plunging England into generations of religious and political turmoil? His ruthless suppression of rebellion and dissent? The wars with France? The field of the Cloth of Gold? Well all of those are aspects of the man and his reign but somewhere in there I hope you'll also make space for Henry Tudor musician and composer.

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