MUSIC OF THE MIDDLE AGES AND RENAISSANCE
CD réf. FCE 209/504
Nicki Crush (soprano), Ria Favoreel (mezzo), Marita Thomas
Mick Swithinbank (tenor & direction)
Jim Foulkes (baritone) & Edward Seymour (bass)
1. Anonymous: There is no rose of such
2. Plainchant: Puer natus est
3. Alexander Utendal (1535-1574): Adesto dolori meo, Deus
4. Guillaume Dufay (1400-1474): Conditor alme siderum
5. O divina virgo (lauda)
6. Antoine Brumel (1475-1520): O crux, ave, spes unica
7. Plainchant: Victimae paschali
8. John Dunstaple (1385-1453): Ave maris stella
9. Charles d'Helfer (early 17th century): Sanctus / Pie Jesu
10. Antoine Brumel: Dies irae
11. Johannes Ockeghem (1420-1497): Mort, tu as navré de ton dart
12. Josquin Desprez (1440-1521): Nymphes des bois
13. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179): O frondens virga
14. Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611): Ave Maria
15. Josquin Desprez: Tu solus qui facit mirabilia
16. David Peebles (1510-1579): Si quis diligit me
17. * John Taverner (1490-1545): Quemadmodum
18. * Thomas Tallis (1505-1585): Videte miraculum
19. * Thomas Tallis: Te lucis ante terminum
Dunstaple was one of many composers who adapted this ancient hymn. His approach, a common one in his day, was to incorporate a decorated version of the plainsong melody in his setting - in this case in the top line - while leaving alternate verses to be sung to the original plainsong unadorned and unaccompanied. The Dufay piece applies the same procedure to another plainsong hymn, and Brumel, although writing later, adopted a rather similar technique in his Dies Irae.
In the Middle Ages, the rose garden was a symbol of virginity, and the rose was therefore another of the many images of the Virgin Mary, as in the medieval Christmas carol 'There is no rose of such virtue' which opens this disk. Hildegard, on the other hand, addresses her as 'frondens virga' - a flourishing branch of the tree of Jesse (referring to the family tree through which Mary traced her lineage back to him).
Also addressed to the Virgin are 'Ave Maria', Victoria's setting of the Angel Gabriel's words at the Annunciation, and the anonymous lauda 'O divina virgo'. This is in Italian, and would have been sung not by the church's regular singers but by devout laymen who formed societies for this purpose.
The pieces on this disk are drawn from four concert programmes dating from October 1998 to October 1999, one of which had the title 'Laments and Requiems'. It included the requiem-mass movements by Brumel and the little-known 17th century Lorraine composer Charles d'Helfer which are featured here, as well as Ockeghem's lament on the death of Binchois (c. 1460) and Josquin's lament on the death of Ockeghem (c. 1497), both of which are heart-felt settings of French poems sung to the accompaniment of Latin texts from the requiem mass. The words make it clear that these widely admired composers whom the world has lost are irreplaceable; at the same time, these settings and those from the requiem mass serve to remind us of our own mortality and perhaps, through some mysterious process, to reconcile us to it in some degree.
'Si quis diliget me' by Peebles was one of the first pieces learned
by The Art of Music in its early days under the directorship of Eric Hartley.
While the tenor sustains the notes of a passage of plainsong drawn out
to such vast length that time almost seems to stand still, the other parts
create slowly changing harmonies, into which small fragments of faster,
but unfailingly calm, melody are woven. This piece has always retained
a special place in the singers' affections, and the aim of presenting to
audiences such rarely performed gems as this is the whole reason for the
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