Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"Father, in whom thy saints are one...."

Don't miss this lovely Evensong, sung earlier today, October 28, at All Saints Church, Margaret Street, London.

Responses: Plainsong
Psalms: 148, 150 (Plainsong)
First Lesson: Isaiah 65 vv17-25
Office Hymn: Father, in whom thy saints are one (Veni redemptor)
Canticles: Walmisley in D
Second Lesson: Hebrews 11 v32 - 12 v2
Anthem: Timete Dominum (Byrd)
Hymn: Hark, the sound of holy voices (Deerhurst)
O salutaris hostia (French chant)
Te Deum (Solemn Tone)
Tantum ergo (de Severac)
Organ Voluntary: Fantaisie sur le Te Deum et Guirlandes Alleluiatiques (L'Orgue Mystique) (Tournemire)

Organist: Henry Parkes
Director of Music: Paul Brough.

Wonderful voices! And some gorgeous chant - especially that Office Hymn....

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Anglican Chant, Part the Third

The Saint Paul Cathedral Choir sings Psalm 121:

As ever, from the wonderful Coverdale Psalter:
Psalm 121. Levavi oculus

1. I WILL lift up mine eyes unto the hills : from whence cometh my help.
2. My help cometh even from the Lord : who hath made heaven and earth.
3. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved : and he that keepeth thee will not sleep.
4. Behold, he that keepeth Israel : shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5. The Lord himself is thy keeper : the Lord is thy defence upon thy right hand;
6. So that the sun shall not burn thee by day : neither the moon by night.
7. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil : yea, it is even he that shall keep thy soul.
8. The Lord shall preserve thy going out, and thy coming in : from this time forth for evermore.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New from now has a video library, here, with about 10 different videos, some Byzantine chant, some Greek, some Znamenny chant.

The first group is "The Romeiko Ensemble, Performing at the National Library of Greece, Dec. 13, 2006"; the second is "St John Men's Chorale, Performing at Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral, San Francisco, 2008."

I can't embed these here, I don't think, so there's the link for you.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

(A little bit) More about Ergo Maris Stella, verbi dei cella

In re: my previous post, I did find this PDF file online, which comes from the site of The Schola Antiqua of Chicago. The PDF is titled: "LONG JOY, BRIEF LANGUOR" and subtitled "The Anonymous English Quem malignus spiritus Mass."

The relevant section is notated thusly: "Alleluia (V. Ave Maria Dominus tecum) and Sequence: Ave maria…virgo serena." Ergo Maris Stella is taken from the Sequence (and as usual, I find myself attracted to Sequence Hymns, even without knowing it!). I've put the words to Ergo Maris Stella, verbi dei cella in bold purple in both the Latin and the English:

Ave Maria gratia plena
Dominus tecum:
benedicta tu in mulieribus.
Ave Maria, gratia plena,
Dominus tecum—virgo serena.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus—
que peperpisti pacem hominibus
et angelis gloriam.
Et benedictus fructus ventris tui—
qui coheredes ut essemus sui
nos, fecit per gratiam.
Per hoc autem Ave
Mundo tam suave,
Contra carnis iura
Genuisti prolem
Novum stella solem
Nova genitura.
Tu parvi et magni,
Leonis et agni,
Salvatoris Xpisti
Templum extitisti,
Sed virgo intacta.
Tu floris et roris,
Panis et pastoris,
Virginum regina
Rosa sine spina,
Genitrix es facta.
Tu civitas regis iusticie,
Tu mater es misericordie,
De lacu faecis et miseriae
Theophilum reformans gratie.
Te collaudat celestis curia,
Tibi nostra favent obsequia,
Que es Dei mater et filia,
Per te reis donatur venia.
Ergo maris stella,
Verbi Dei cella
Et solis aurora,
Paradysi porta,
Per quam lux est orta,
Natum tuum ora,
Ut nos solvat a peccatis,
Et in regna claritatis
Quo lux lucet sedula,
Collocet per secula.

Hail Mary, full of grace,
The Lord is with you:
Blessed are you among women.
Hail Mary, full of grace,
The Lord is with you—O serene virgin.
Blessed are you among women,
you who bore peace for humankind
and glory for the angels.
And blessed is the fruit of your womb—
he who makes us his heirs through grace,
so that we might be his.
But though this “Ave” —
So pure and sweet,
Contrary to the law of the flesh—
You, O star, through a new birth
Brought forth your offspring,
The new sun.
You stand out as the temple
Of the humble and the great,
Of the lion and the lamb,
Of Christ the savior—
Yet you remain a virgin.
You have been made mother
Of the bud and the dew,
Of the bread and the shepherd
You are queen of virgins,
Rose without thorns.
You are the city of the king of justice,
You are mother of mercy,
From the pool of impurity and misery
You recast one who through grace
becomes a lover of God.
You the celestial curia
together praises in song,
To You our services are devoted,
You who are mother and daughter of God,
Through You the pardon for guilt is offered.
Therefore star of the sea,
Sanctuary of the word of God
And dawn of the sun,
Door of paradise
Through which the Light is born:
Pray to Him your Son,
That He might free us from sins,
And place us in the kingdom of clarity,
Where the sedulous light shines
Through all ages.

Here's the video again, from Psallentes:

The notes in that PDF from the Chicago Schola say, first, that:
The Missa Quem malignus spiritus is an anonymous English setting of the cyclic mass for three voices and remains one of the earliest known masses to be unified by a single plainchant melody. This mass is based on a responsory chant found in just one mid-fifteenth-century source. This source bears the rhymed office of John (Thweng) of Bridlington, a fourteenth-century English saint canonized in 1401 (d. 1379). The mass seems to have appeared a little more than a generation after his canonization. While this saint represents an obscure figure of ostensibly local renown, the Missa Quem malignus spiritus is found well beyond the English orbit, remarkably in the famous Trent Codices—one of the largest sources of fifteenth-century polyphony—as well as in a fragment from the city of Lucca. In this mass setting, the lowest voice sings the melody of the responsory chant, while the upper voices unfold two independent lines to form the polyphony. The rhythmic texture of the upper voices is extremely subtle and complex, and rhythm itself seems to be treated as something of a dissonance which is “resolved” at cadences. Melodic imitation is clearly audible between the two upper voices.

The section about Ergo, Maris Stella has this:
We supplement the Missa Quem malignus spiritus with four plainchants, which fall into their proper place in the Mass with one exception (the Marian antiphon Ave regina caelorum). The plainchant genres of Alleluia and sequence formed a splendid prelude to the Gospel in the medieval liturgy, and many of the most highly developed musical moments created by and for the medieval cantor appear at this moment. The Alleluia. Ave Maria was sung as early as the tenth century and probably represents the work of ninth-century Frankish cantors. The sequence Ave Maria...virgo serena demonstrates the new style of both poetry and music that emerged in the late eleventh and twelfth centuries. The poetry of the sequence is rhymed without being strictly metrical, and the music is shaped by the rhythmic flow and rhymed lines of the text. While this sequence originated in the south German sphere around 1100, by the fifteenth century it was sung throughout Europe.

It seems to me that the notes above are saying that the Sequence Ave maria…virgo serena does not necessarily belong with the Quem malignus spiritus Mass, but that it could possibly have been sung with it as a chant proper to the day, as the two separate pieces were being used around the same time.

But, at least that's a bit more information about this very pretty tune.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Well-Tempered Clavier, Again

Awhile back, I posted this wonderful link that offers great audio, stunning video/animations to go with the music, and terrific analysis of all the fugues in both Well-Tempered Clavier books - and now I'll give you another.

Here's a site where you can download PDFs of both Well-Tempered Clavier books; each book comes in two parts (#1-12 in Part 1, and #13-24 in Part 2). All Preludes and all Fugues are included.

I've been meaning to go over to that other site, the one with audio and video, and thank that guy for doing all that incredible work - and I think I will....

(Yes, this is Chantblog, but for me J.S. Bach is a serious weakness. Indulge me.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Ergo Maris Stella, verbi dei cella

A lovely Ave Maria, from the Belgian chant group Psallentes.

A blurb at the YouTube page says:
This is part of the gregorian chant prosa 'Ave Maria'. Listen while watching the same in the original manuscript (E-Bc 911, which is a cantorale from Girona). This is from the cd 'Llibre Vermell de Montserrat' RIC 260.

This is an obscure text, as far as I can tell; there's not much in English on the web about it. Much of what Psallentes does seems to be taken from rather obscure old manuscripts; I'm really looking forward to learning more about the pieces they are singing. Here's their terrific YouTube channel.

(Amusingly, there's a Psallentes Ladies, too, on their own section of the the website. Here's what it says about them there:
Making a striking début at the Alden Biesen ‘Day of Early Music’ in 2007, a female version of Psallentes has arisen from the original. Eight young female singers devoted themselves to the interpretation of the ethereal music of Hildegard von Bingen. This may lead to a CD of the female ensemble, to appear in 2009. Meanwhile the project ‘Gregorian chant for young female voices’ made a second appearance with ‘De Begijntjesprocessie’ (Procession of the Beguines) a programme dedicated to the Gregorian chant of the Beguines, originating from various Flemish beguinages in sources from the late Middle Ages.)

Very interesting to me, the thing about the Beguines; I have a strong interest in one of those women, the 13th-Century Marguerite Porete (burned at the stake for heresy, of course). The Ladies are actually how I found this ensemble to begin with, after coming across their gorgeous version of "O Sacrum Convivium."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Rachmaninoff's "Bless the Lord, O My Soul"

A gorgeous piece of music, from Rachmaninoff's Vespers: Blagoslovi, Dushe Moya (the text comes from Psalm 104):

The translation given at the YouTube page is this:
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
blessed art Thou, O Lord.
O Lord my God, Thou art very great.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord.
Thou are clothed with honor and majesty.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord.
The waters stand upon the mountains.
Marvelous are Thy works, O Lord
The waters flow between the hills.
Marvelous are Thy works, O Lord.
In wisdom hast Thou made all things.
Glory to Thee, O Lord, who hast created all!

Rachmaninoff also wrote a Liturgy of St. John Crysostom that includes "Bless the Lord, O My Soul" - but I do believe this is the version for Vespers.

Will look more into this and return with what I find. I honestly don't know very much, from either experience or reading, about Orthodox liturgy, but am trying to learn.

[EDIT: Our great friend Caelius notes in comments that "This Psalm is the standard opening of the Orthodox Vespers service and is considered in that tradition to be a song of Adam."

Thanks, Caelius.]

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Introit Gaudeamus

It doesn't take too long to find the answer to even the most obscure question any more! I went Googling (and a Hey, Nonny, Nonny...) and found exactly what I was looking for when I asked Ben about Gaudeamus used an an Introit. It comes from a chapter called "Josquin's Mass for All Saints and the Book of Revelation" in a book titled Symbolic scores: Studies in the music of the Renaissance:
It should be pointed out, however, that the Introit "Gaudemus" - as ascertained already by Helmuth Ostoff - is also used for a large number of saints' days as well as for the feast of All Saints (November 1). The Introit sung in the Mass of Saint Agatha (February 5) is the oldest version. Its text is the same as that of Example 1, except that it has "Agathae martyres: de cujus passione" (Agatha martyr, at whose passion) instead of "Mariae virginis: de cujus assumptionae" (the Virgin Mary, for whose Assumption). From the eleventh century onwards, the antiphon appears in at least seven other Masses. In the Introit of All Saints the text passage quoted above reads "Sanctorum omnium de quorum solemnitate" (of all the Saints, at whose solemnity).

Below is the "Example 1" referred to above:

[Another Edit: Ben to the rescue in the comments again! Still another of my questions answered, and I'll simply quote him directly again:
Regarding the Assumption: 'Gaudeamus' was the introit until 1950. That's when Pope Pius XII defined the dogma of the Assumption, and at that stage he replaced the ancient proper with a confected set of texts that more closely related to the dogma as defined, including the new introit 'Signum Magnum'. Not sure where the music for that came from. The wisdom of replacing wholesale an ancient festal proper is questionable, so in the revised Graduale Romanum in the 1970s, both Gaudeamus and Signum Magnum are offered as alternatives.

Thanks a million, Ben!]

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Messe de Nostre Dame, Guillaume de Machaut

From this YouTube entry:
Guillaume de Machaut, sometimes spelled Machault, (c. 1300 April 1377), was an important Medieval French poet and composer. He is one of the earliest composers for whom significant biographical information is available.

Guillaume de Machaut was "the last great poet who was also a composer,". Well into the 15th century, Machaut's poetry was greatly admired and imitated by other poets including the likes of Geoffrey Chaucer.

Machaut was and is the most celebrated composer of the 14th century. He composed in a wide range of styles and forms and his output was enormous. He was also the most famous and historically significant representative of the musical movement known as the ars nova.

Machaut was especially influential in the development of the motet and the secular song (particularly the lai, and the formes fixes: rondeau, virelai and ballade). Machaut wrote the Messe de Nostre Dame, the earliest known complete setting of the Ordinary of the Mass attributable to a single composer, and influenced composers for centuries to come.

Here's the "Ensemble Organum" version of the Gloria from that page:

Interesting to read the comments on that page; apparently each recording of this mass - and most likely other music from that time and earlier - is an approximation/estimate/guess about how it originally was sung and sounded. This version seems very "Moorish" (perhaps ?), as one commenter noticed.

Here's a different version of the Machaut Messe de Nostre Dame, from "Ensemble Giles Binchois". It begins, "Gaudeamus," so I think this version must include the chant propers; Gaudeamus is the Introit for All Saints' Day - but also, I'm reading, historically for The Feast of the Assumption, which makes more sense in this circumstance, since it's the "Messe de Nostre Dame," after all. [EDIT: A commenter, Ben, helpfully notes that:
The Ensemble Giles Binchois is indeed singing Mass of the Assumption. The introit text varies according to the feast on which it is used - this version bids us rejoice 'sub honore Mariae Virginis, de cujus Assumptione gaudent angeli'.]

Thank you very much, Ben! I'll still need to look more at that and see what I find - would like to know more about "Gaudemus" and its use - but meantime, here's the piece:

Here's the Kyrie from the Ensemble Binchois:

And here's the Binchois Gloria:

Here's the Sanctus:

Here's the Agnus Dei:

There seem to be 14 videos in all of the latter version, all available if you click over there. Dominique Vellard is the guy with the curly hair; I've come across him before.

This is really beautiful music, isn't it?


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