Palestrina, G P da - Music for Good Friday - Musica Contexta

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Musica Contexta was formed in 1991. Translated literally, the name becomes ‘music interwoven’, reflecting the group’s governing aim of presenting Renaissance music in the context of its original conception and function. Springing from this aim is a desire to reflect the many distinctive idioms and national styles of the Renaissance. Also, Musica Contexta only claims to present music as it could – not necessarily how it would –have been heard.

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was one of the leading composers of the late sixteenth century and was particularly prolific in the composition of masses and motets, A key figure in Catholic music-making in the age of the Counter-Reformation, Palestrina succeeded in cohesively assimilating the richly developed polyphonic technique of his French-Flemish predecessors.

Palestrina’s setting of the Good Friday Improperia: a piece of such power that for years after its composition it was venerated by even the most esteemed of musicians. It was composed to be sung after the long recitation of the Passion as the Pope began the veneration of the cross in front of the bare altar on Good Friday in the Sistine Chapel. In this context it is easy to appreciate the aptness of the music which itself is stripped bare.

The music for the Improperia survives in two manuscripts which, viewed together, offer a fascinating insight into the renaissance approach to rhythm in monophonic music. In one manuscript (in Palestrina’s hand) the music is noted in equal values, whilst in the other stressed and unstressed syllables are assigned long and short notes respectively. Both represent the declamation of the spoken word. In another sense too the written form of the Improperia are less than sacrosanct: the length of the Improperia would be adjusted to match the timing of the liturgical adoration.

The hymn Vexilla Regis, originally written for the Choir of St Peter’s, would have marked the recession from the Sistine Chapel; the verse ‘O crux ave spes unica’ (O cross, our only hope, hail!) was to be synchronised with the exit of the Pope through the chapel door.

Artikelnummer CHAN0652
Streckkod 0095115065228
Utgivningsdatum 2006-09-01
Kategori Klassiskt
Skivbolag Chandos / Chaconne
Enhet CD
Antal enheter 1
Artister Musica Contexta
Kompositörer Palestrina, G P da
Disk: 1
Music for Good Friday
1 Lamentation I (Book III)
2 Responsory I
3 Lamentation II (Book III)
4 Responsory II
5 Lamentation III (Book III)
6 Responsory III
7 Antiphon
8 Improperia
9 Antiphon
10 Hymn: Crux fidelis/Pange lingua
11 Hymn: Vexilla regis
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