domingo, 21 de abril de 2013

The Choir Project al día [21-IV-2013]

Estêvão Lopes Morago [c.1575-c.1630]: Versa est in lvctvm à 4.
Grupo Vocal Officium - Pedro Teixeira.
The Portuguese Golden Age.

   Ivan Moody said about:
"The fact taht Estêvão Lopes Morago, a significant figure in Portuguese musical history, was in fact Spanish by bith is indicativa of the natural processes of cultural interchange between the two contries at the time -an interchange which was independent of the fact of Portugal's being under Spanish rule from 1581 to 1640. Morago was one of the three know pupils of Filipe de Magalhães at évora. The other two, Estêvão de Brito and Manuel Correis, followed the opposite course fro Morago and went to work in Spain.

   Morago was born in Vallecas (now part of Madrid) in about 1575, but susequently spent nearly all his life in Portugal. After studying at Évora with Magalhães he became canon and mestre de capela of the Cathedral of Viseu (in the north of the country) from 1599 until 1628. He then retired to the Franciscan monastery at Orgens, not far from Viseu, and died in or after 1630. His music survives in archives in Viseu.

   Magalhães's influence shows quite clearly in Morago's clean contrpuntal technique (as indeed it does in the work of Brito and Correa), but what is especially impressive about Morago's music is the daring handling of dissonance and, in several works of more straightforward harmonic character, an interest in antiphonal effects. Motets such as Oculi mei, tonally ambiguous and dripping with adventurousness fouths, demonstrate perfectly the expressive use to closely-wrought imitative writing with sudden outbursts of rhythmic homophony is also characteristic of 'Versa est in luctum' and Commissa mea. In fact, Morago's setting of penitential or funeral texts is sensitive in the extreme. Ealier composers such as Cardoso, or indeed Magalhães (not to speak of their Spanish antecedents such as Guerrero), could never have conceived the kind of abrupt juxtaposition which occurs in Versa est when the word organum suddenly springs out of the polyphonic context, 'underlined' so to speak, in a flash of dancing homophony. The plangent piling-up of suspensions at nihil enim sunt dies mei later in the piece certainly is anticipated in ealier composers, but even so, for intensity of effect in only four parts, Morago is unique.

   Pieces such as Laetentur caeli and Montes Isreal show that Morago was equally capable of responding to othre sorts of text, as do his surviving Psalm settings and responsories for Christmas matins. But it is for what have often been called the 'mannerist' quealities of his settings of more emotive texts that he is known, and it is something which is often seen to be representative of Inerian music of this period at the expense of other aspects. (The modern emphasis on Victoria's Missa Pro Defunctis and Tenebrae Responsories at the expense of his other Mass settings or motets is the prime example of this.) Nevertheless, Morago's music for precisely this reason complements extremely well that of the later composer Diogo Dias Melgás."

   Robert Stevenson wrotes:
"[...]But liked his teacher and his contemporaries Brito, Cardoso and Lôbo, he always remained too much the Peninsular conservative to write for continuo, to forgot imitation and the equality of the voices or to venture far into chromaticism. For dramatic effect, however, he did place adjent to each other chord as disparate as those of G minor andE major and Bb and A major. To add to the harmonic tension he frequently changed accidentals in succesive imitative entries (occasionally he wrote an iverted final entry). Many chordal sequences are found in his more expressive motets, as also are chains os suspensions and passing and changing notes. Occasionally he mixed the extremes of fast and slow motion in the same motet, and six of his eight Christmas responsories are in fast triple metre. His shorter motets are frequently monothematic. He sometimes confirmed his endings with long pedals. Despite the triple canon closing his Magnificat on the 8th tone he could not being to match the contrapuntal pyrotechnics of his Spanish contemporaries Vivanco and Aguilera de Heredia; nor was he fastidious about avoiding forbidden consecutives."

  When I discovered this piece in 2010 -at Evora Cathedral Music School - International Workshop | "Jornadas"- and I sang this in small ensemble under the conducting of Peter Phillips, I thought: "Wow, this music is simply incredible, exciting, amazing, very impressive". The tenor line was absolutely awesome, one of the most beautiful lines I've ever sung, really.
This piece struck me as few works and today, three years after, it still moves me and I singing in my head many times.
This piece and that moment were one of the most impressive musical moments in my life.

   Congrats to Portuguese Officium Ensemble for fantastic performance in this video. I think Portuguese Renaissance polyphony is simply at same level as the rest of the European musical production of this time. for me the authentic "Idade d'ouro" of Portuguese music.

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