sábado, 17 de noviembre de 2012

The Choir Project al día [17-XI-2012]

Manuel Cardoso [1566-1650]: Magnificat Secvndi toni a 5.
The Tallis Scholars - Peter Phillips.
The greatness of Portugal.

    In words of Peter Phillips:
"The Portuguese school of Renaissance composers is only just beginning to be explored. It came to maturity relatively slowly, and when it finally did, in the first half of the 17th century, much of the rest of Europe had moved on to a new musical world. Only countries on the edge of the continent - especially England, Poland and Portugal - continued as late as 1650 to give employment to composers who found creative possibilities in unaccompanied choral music. Even so, very few of these composers remained completely untouched by the experiments of Monteverdi and the new Italian Baroque school, so that their music became a fascinating hybrid, looking forward and back, often unexpectedly introducing twists and turns to what otherwise might be taken for pure 'Palestrina'. Late Renaissance English composers are famous for this: it is time that their contemporaries in Portugal earned the same credit. Of the four leading names - Estêvao de Brito (c.1575-1641), Filipe de Magalhaes (c.1571-1652), Duarte Lôbo (1565-1646) and Frei Manuel Cardoso (c.1566-1650), it was Cardoso who mixed old and new most successfully, producing his own highly characterful style.

   Cardoso spent his life as a member of the Carmelite order attached to the wealthy Convento do Carmo at Lisbon. Before taking his vows in 1589, he had been trained as a choirboy at Évora Cathedral. Between 1618 and 1625 he was employed by the Duke of Barcelos, who later became King John IV, a most useful patron since he was himself a keen musician and a competent composer. Cardoso's surviving works are printed in five collections, two of which were paid for by King John. Of these five the first and last (1613 and 1648) are general collections of motets and Magnificats, while the other three (1625, 1636 and 1636) are books of Masses. All the parody Masses in the 1625 book are based on motets by Palestrina, which explains how Cardoso came to have such a secure grasp of the essentials of Renaissance style. The parody Masses of the second book (1636) are all on motets by the future John IV and in his third book of Masses (also 1636) Cardoso printed a set of six (two each for four, five and six voices) on a single motet by Philip IV of Spain. Although Cardoso was the most widely published Portuguese composer of his time, his reputation would have been more internationally established if the Antwerp publishing house of Plantin had accepted an offer which Cardoso made them in 1611 to publish his works. In the end Plantin proved to be too expensive for this relatively provincial composer.

    We cannot know the extent to which Cardoso experimented with the more obvious kinds of Baroque style, since all his polychoral music was destroyed in the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. The five publications referred to above are exclusively in Renaissance style, except to say that there is no other Renaissance idiom quite like it.

    The same musical procedure -the listener is left in real confusion about the tonality of the music, until in bar six it is resolved with the Baroque chromaticisms of what we know as the 'melodic' minor scale- can be heard in the Magnificat (Secundi Toni 5 vv) beginning at the verse 'Esurientes' (Index 2). Cardoso followed this with his most protracted working of augmented chord harmony, which, in conjunction with the uncertain tonality, provides one of the most colourful passages on the whole recording. In this setting Cardoso gave the Magnificat formula, surely a little tired by 1613 when this one was printed, a refreshing overhaul, for instance increasing the number of voice-parts in the final polyphonic passage from the initial five (SSATB) to six by doubling the alto part."

    For me this piece is a fantastic example of the "grandeur" in the Portuguese music of XVIth century. I think this period is the golden age of Portuguese music in history.
This album is indispensable in this way, because captures the essence of the work of Cardoso.
The perfomance is really superb, pure "Tallis sound", balance, elegance, exquisite intonation, brilliant sound...

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