sábado, 27 de abril de 2013

The Choir Project al día [27-IV-2013]

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina [1525-1594]: Missa Brevis à 4.
The Tallis Scholars - Peter Phillips.
Il Principe della Musica.

   Peter Phillips wrotes about:
"Despite its title Palestrina's famous Missa Brevis is one of the most substantial and sonorous of all his mass-settings to be written in four parts. The reason for its title (meaning 'short mass') is a mystery, though the use of it may be connected with the lack of any obvious model for the setting. Palestrina, early in his career, liked to use other composers' motets or plainsong chant to rework in 'parody' fashion, an old and respectable technique. Many people have looked for such a model in this case but without success. Plainsong was the most likely starting-point, but if so the melodies are not consistently applied. The mass was first published in 1570 and was a success from the start, being reprinted several times before 1620. There have been countless modern editions.

   The most likely explanation for this general descriptive title Brevis is that no other came readily to hand. In other cases of a 'free' setting Sine Nomine was common; but some of these, like the one which has recently been proved to be based on Josquin's motet Benedicta es, are bigger pieces in terms of the number of voices employed, and perhaps a distinction between the titles Sine Nomine and Brevis is implied. Not that anyone ever proposed the title Missa Longa. The idea that the word Brevis comes from the fact that every movement starts with a breve in the original notation is discounted since literally hundreds of works start with that note and it is hard to imagine anyone fixing on this detail as being worthy of comment.

  The music has a strong character, confidently written, with the motif of the falling minor third, usually followed by upward movement by step, appearing very regularly. This happens not only at the beginning of most movements, but frequently during them, for instance in the remarkable sequence in all the parts to the word Amen in the Credo. This interval alone goes some way to explain the unusually subtle cohesion which the Missa Brevis displays on close acquaintance, where a casual glance might judge it to be disparate. The music is for SATB, increasing to SSATB for the beautiful second Agnus Dei. The phrase at the beginning of the first Agnus - an ascending scale - is inverted at the beginning of the second, which rounds off the music in the most satisfying way."

   In words of Ivan Moody:
"Palestrina’s four-voiced Missa Brevis was first published in 1570, in the third book of masses, and several times reprinted. Its title has been the subject of considerable but fruitless speculation – it is not particularly short, and could indeed be considered quite substantial as a four-part work. Though many have looked for a model, this does not seem to be a “parody” Mass; the world brevis was probably used simply because no other title suggested itself. Haberl’s idea that it was because each movement opens with a breve is certainly not be worthy of note.

   One of the most frequently sung Masses in Palestrina´s oeuvre, the Missa Brevis has been an immediacy of melodic and a notable clarity of texture. Its lack of recurrent reference to a musical model is compensated for by the regular appearance of a particular melodic features, notable a descending minor third followed by a brief scalic ascent – this is clearly audible at the very opening of the Kyrie. The four-part texture gives way in the Benedictus to a flowing trio (SAT), and in the second Agnus Dei to a five-part setting, with trebles in canon at the unison."

   In my opinion, this is a fine example of academic style by Palestrina and one of the best Mass setting in four parts ever composed.
The text is clear, absolutely understandable, but the music is not affected by this, and the beautiful of this piece is really incredible.
This is Renaissance, voices, harmony, melody, polyphony... an authentic example of the best Renaissance polyphony ever composed.

   This performance is really impressive. The lines move, cross and listen with incredible clarity, and sound is amazing.
This album is pure Palestrina, pure "Tallis", pure Phillips, pure Renaissance, pure polyphony and pure glory.

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