Giovanni P. da Palestrina’s “Assumpta Est Maria”

The legend of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina as the saviour of polyphony (and sacred music in general) is known in our days more as a Romantic fantasy – a mystification of Palestrina’s fame as a composer – than a page of Western music history. This does not take credit of the immense impact Palestrina had on the music of Catholic Church after the Council of Trent: in a space of 30 years (from the ending of the Council to Palestrina’s death) he published no fewer than 11 books of motets, four of which comprise complete liturgical collections. Apperently, these collections illustrate the music at the basilica of San Pietro in the 1570s and 1580s. (mais…)

Thomas Tallis’s “Spem in Alium”

This is probably one of the most celebrated and high-regarded work of sacred polyphony, English composer Thomas Tallis’s (c.1505-1585) motet for forty voices Spem in Alium. The motet is set for eight choirs of five voices each (SATBarB) and was probably composed around 1570, some say, commissioned to rival Alessandro Striggio’s (c.1536/37-1592) motet, also for forty voices, Ecce Beatam Lucem. Striggio is known to have visited London in June 1567 after a musical journey through Europe. (mais…)

Maurice Ravel’s ‘Bolero’

RavelThis work was originally commissioned by Ida Rubinstein as a ballet. Ravel cheerfully labelled his Bolero ‘a piece for orchestra without music’. It was born of his frustration at finding the conductor Enrique Arbós had pre-empted him in orchestrating some movements from Albéniz’s Iberia, which Ravel had intended for a ballet for Ida Rubinstein. So instead, one morning Ravel picked out on the piano what he described as ‘a pretty emphatic kind of tune’ and declared that he was going to subject it to varying orchestral effects without any thematic development. (mais…)

Monteverdi’s “Vespro della Beata Vergine” (1610)

MonteverdiJohn Elliott Gardiner explores Claudio Monteverdi’s monumental work – the Vespro della Beata Vergine (1610) – on a 80′s Venetian scenario. This work is made of a series of psalms and motets: the invitatoriumDixit Dominus (psalm), Nigra sum (motet), Laudate pueri (psalm), Pulchra es (motet), Laetatus sum (psalm), Duo Seraphim (motet), Nisi Dominus (psalm), Audi coelum (motet), Lauda Jerusalem (psalm), the Sonata sopra Sancta Maria, the hymn Ave maris stella and two versions of the Magnificat. (mais…)

Performing Issues

The title of this post might suggest controversy, but it is not intended to be controversial. The excerpt that follows was taken from my current reading: Early Music: A Very Short Introduction. This is one more book of Oxford University Press collection “A Very Short Introduction”, a sort of “fast-reading” book that puts you on the terminology and theory behind the idea of what’s early music all about.

The excerpt that follows was taken from the fifth chapter who’s title gives the title to this post. (mais…)

Mozart’s “Clarinet Concerto” K 622

basset clarinetPerformed by Lorenzo Coppola with Freiburger Barockorchester at Schwetzinger Festspiele 2007.

This was quite an interesting discovery in YouTube for several reasons. First, the fact that Lorenzo Coppola is using a basset clarinet, a replica of what Anton Stadler (who premiered the Concerto in Prague on 16 October 1791) played. Second, this interpretation (historical) is fantastic, for it shows a “classical perspective” of the work itself, rather than the majority of 20th century interpretations that quite often sound like – and excuse me for this rough expression – “a gorilla playing with China porcelain”. (mais…)

Of Matheo Romero and His Music

Yesterday I was listening to a cd by the Choeur de Chambre de Namur and La Fenice (dir. Jean Tubéry) featuring music by Matheo Romero I was wondering “how could I miss this wonderful composer?”. Indeed Romero’s music is extraordinary, especially his polychoral works. A motet (In Devotione a 8) and a psalm (Laudate Dominum a 12) were very colourful works full of movement… with the sackbutts and cornetts joining the voices. Just fantastic. I reminded me of Romero’s relations with the Chapel of Vila Viçosa and the subsequent contact with our King, the “great” D. João IV, who acquired many of Romero’s compositions for his Library. (mais…)