sábado, 23 de febrero de 2013

The Choir Project al día [23-II-2013]

[Music for Holy Week].
Thomas Tallis [c.1505-1585]: The Lamentations of Jeremiah.
- Lamentations of Jeremiah I a 5. I Fagiolini - Robert Hollingworth. 
- Lamentations of Jeremeiah II a 5. Magnificat - Philip Cave.
English refinement for a time of withdrawal.

   Peter Phillips wrote about these pieces:
"The Lamentations[...]were all written during Queen Elizabeth I's reign (1558-1603).
The Lamentations[...]are clearly in the idiom common to all late renaissance English composers. This was a style which Tallis received indirectly from abroad and adapted to his own requirements. As always the melodic lines are concise and often begin by imitating each other; to this framework Tallis added his own sense of tonality, dissonance and, in particular, frequent use of the false relation (so memorable in the final cadence, amongst others, of O nata lux).

   Tallis's Lamentations were probably intended as independent motets for use in Holy Week and not for any ritual office. Paul Doe has gone further in saying that 'they were not conceived as church music at all, but rather for private recreational singing by loyal Catholics' (1), just as so many of Byrd's motets were later to be. Although the texts of the two sets comply almost precisely to those of the first two Lessons of Maundy Thursday Matins in the Sarum Use (2), they would not have been sung consecutively, being separated by a sung responsorium, In monte Oliveti, and Tallis has in any case set his two lessons in different modes. Their compositional method is similar, however, and for this reason we have grouped them together on this recording; the Hebrew letters are set in an abstract manner, almost like consort music, which contrasts with the more declamatory writing in the verses themselves. Both sets end with some of the most inspired writing of the period, to the words Ierusalem, Ierusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum (Jerusalem, Jerusalem, turn to the Lord, your God) which may well have had symbolic meaning to Tallis, a Catholic in a Protestant country."

(1) Paul Doe, Tallis, Oxford Studies of Composers No.4, 2nd edition 1976, London, p. 39.
(2) A variant of the Latin liturgy used in pre-Reformation England."

   In words of Ivan Moody:
"With the two sets of Lamentations we come to what is perhaps Tallis’s most personal music. The text is from the Maundy Thursday set, but the Lamentations can hardly have been used liturgically. Rather they are another instance of the turning of a more elaborate liturgical form into a motet. In this case there are two (separate) motets, each of several sections delineated by the ritual Hebrew letters between the Latin text. There are so many felicitous details to observe in these works—the subtle use of cumulative repetition and the ‘antiphonal’ effects between one voice and the rest also found in In ieiunio; the harmonic richness and fluidity (like that in O nata lux but stretched out over a much longer span); the melodic fecundity (particularly in the setting of the Hebrew letters)—that it is easy to overlook the carefully wrought architecture of the whole in each set. They are statements of musical and spiritual profundity such that at the conclusion—Ierusalem, Ierusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum—there can be no doubt of Tallis’s intention."

   In my opinion, Tallis's Lamentations are one of the most beautiful in the History of Music. Its power lies in its refinement, the elegance and delicacy so characteristic of the English style -already anticipated Martin le Franc in 1441-1442, when he used the adjetive contenance angloise which described the music made on the island during this period-.

   These two version are similar in use of voices -ATTBarB-, and the "Bristish sound", but they are really different. I Fagiolini performs it with energy, vocal power, with full sonority. Meanwhile, Magnificat sings this with subtlety, fineness, showing less importance to the sound and more to expressiveness. The singers are really stunning, specially Patrick Craig, Robert Macdonald -probably my favourite bass in ensembles- and Nick Todd -absolutely my favourite tenor in ensembles-.

   Enjoy it, because this music is simply one of the most deep and exciting composed for Holy Week in the history.

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