martes, 24 de junio de 2014

The Choir Project al día | 21-VI-2014

Fernando de las Infantas [1534-c. 1610]: Salve regina à 5.
Ensemble Plus Ultra | Michael Noone.
Spanish Marian praise.

  Robert Stevenson said about this Spanish composer and theologian:
«He was his family's third son, heir to a coat-of-arms bestowed by Edward III of England, and the only Spanish composer of his time of sufficiently high social rank to be called ‘Don’. He received a fine classical education and the best musical training obtainable in Córdoba, where Alonso de Vieras was maestro de capilla of the cathedral. In 1571 or 1572 he went to Rome, aided by a pension from Philip II of Spain. Alarmed by proposed revisions to the Roman Gradual according to the recommendations of humanist scholars, Infantas protested to Philip II in a letter of 25 November 1577. The king intervened, causing Pope Gregory XIII to delay Palestrina and Annibale Zoilo in their preparation of the new version. From 1572 until about 1597 Infantas lived on his patrimony at Rome, working as a volunteer in a hospital for the needy. He was ordained in 1584, and served afterwards as chaplain of a small church in a poor suburb. In 1601 he published at Paris three theological treatises, one of which, «Tractatus de praedestinatione», was placed on the Index in 1603 by Pope Clement VIII. During the last years of his life he became involved in theological and political disputes. By 1608 he was in such penury that he petitioned Philip III for aid.

  All his compositions were written before his ordination. «Plura modulationum genera» (1579) is a set of 101 counterpoints, in three to eight parts, based on a single ten-note Gregorian incipit (Psalm cxvi). The first 14 are three-voice exercises composed during his student days in Córdoba. His next datable works are three five-voice motets in the second book of «Sacrae varii styli cantiones» (1578): no.28 commemorates the death of Charles V of Spain at the monastery of Yuste near Plasencia in 1558; no.20 implores divine aid against the siege of Malta by the Turks in 1565; and no.5 celebrates the naval triumph at Lepanto in 1571. His last datable composition is a motet from the third book of «Sacrae varii styli cantiones» (1579), «Jubilate Deo», written for the jubilee year 1575. Three motets from the same collection also appeared in anthologies published at Nuremberg. Many of the motets of Sacrae varii styli cantiones, even those which are comparatively free, reveal Infantas's interest in plainsong. In the virtuoso 8-voice setting of Loquebantur variis linguis, the composer depicts ‘the Apostles speaking with divers tongues’ by having three voices sing a whole tone higher than notated; the lower voices sing a mirror canon.»

  In words of Michael Noone -sorry for translation:
«What is fascinating musically in de la Infantas works is that they seem to have been the work of a person of noble extraction, whose interest in musical composition is so speculative and theological and liturgical and practical, which, for all we know, had no connection with any institution important musical of its time and yet presents to posterity a remarkable corpus of sacred motets. Stylistically, his motets are a unique synthesis of many past influences and his time. In his uniquely varied production, there are works that reveal the assimilation of music past masters like Josquin and Morales, along with motets that can be compared to those of Guerrero, Palestrina and Victoria for its modernity. The ways that left us ranging from liturgical pieces characterized by its intimacy, of well known texts, cheers for large ceremonies with quotes sequence festive Masses (as «Victimae paschali laudes») and large Responsories the Divine Office (as the virtuoso surprisingly motet Loquebantur variis linguis), a meditative and devotional motets setting texts from the Gospels and Psalms. The technical means used strict treatment ranging from Gregorian cantus firmus tenor, through lots of ostinato motet (almost brand distinctive in his music), a paraphrase of Gregorian chant (the works which he defines «Super Excelsus Gregorianus Cantus» ), canonical motets and pieces of free composition.»

  This is the first album ever devoted entirely to the work of this master –incredible, but true–, and it's necessary give thanks to Michael Noone and his «cantores» for this album, absolutely essential.
Fantastic music in very beautiful performances.

  The Spaniard polyphony is an authentic jewel.

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