lunes, 2 de febrero de 2015

The Choir Project al día | 01-II-2015

Tomás Luis de Victoria [b Avila, 1548-d Madrid, 20 Aug 1611]: Missa Pro defunctis à 4 | Thomae Ludovico / A Victoria Abulensis / Missarum Libri Duo / Quae Partim Quaternis. Partim Quinis. / Partim Senis. / Concinuntur Vocibus / Ad Philippum secundum Hispaniarum Regem Catholicum.
Romae / Ex Typografia Dominici Basae. / MDLXXXIII / Cum Licentia superiorum. / Romae / Apud Alexandrum Gardanum MDLXXXIII.
Ensemble Plus Ultra | Michael Noone.
Not only the six-parts Requiem.

     Robert Stevensosn wrote about Victoria:
«I. Life.

     Victoria was the seventh of 11 children born to Francisco Luis de Victoria and Francisca Suárez de la Concha, who were married in 1540. There were important relatives on both sides of the family. For example, three of his Suárez de la Concha cousins achieved success, Cristóbal as a naval commander, Hernando as a Jesuit pioneer in Mexico and Baltasar as a merchant in Florence, where he married Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici’s sister-in-law and was ennobled. The uncle on his father’s side after whom Victoria was named was a lawyer who pleaded cases before the royal chancery at Valladolid; he entered the priesthood after his wife’s death and in 1577 was installed as a canon of Avila Cathedral. Victoria’s father died on 29 August 1557, and another uncle, Juan Luis, who was also a priest, took charge of the orphaned family.

    Victoria learnt the rudiments of music as a choirboy at Avila Cathedral under the maestros de capilla Gerónimo de Espinar (1550–58) and Bernardino de Ribera (1559–63); Ribera and his successor, Juan Navarro (i), were among the leading Spanish composers of their time. The cathedral organists during this period were Damián de Bolea and Bernabé del Aguila. Victoria may also have known Cabezón, who played at the cathedral in November 1552 and again in June 1556; Cabezón’s wife came from Avila, and their family residence from about 1538 to 1560 was not far from Victoria’s. Victoria’s classical education probably began at S Gil, a school for boys founded at Avila by the Jesuits in 1554. The school enjoyed a good reputation from the beginning, and St Teresa of Avila insisted that her nephews attend it; in April 1557 St Francisco de Borja visited Avila to inspect it and to encourage other Jesuit establishments in the town.

     After his voice had broken, Victoria was sent to the Jesuit Collegio Germanico, Rome, which had been founded in 1552. He may have been enrolled by 25 June 1563, though 1565 is a more probable date (see Casimiri). The 200 students at the college were of two kinds, a small group of young men in training for the German missionary priesthood and a much larger number of English, Spanish and Italian boarders, whose fees helped maintain the college; Victoria was among the latter group and was specifically enrolled as a singer. Here, if not already at S Gil, he achieved fluency in Latin. In the dedication of his first collection of motets (1572) he acknowledged his debt to Otto Truchsess von Waldburg, Cardinal-Archbishop of Augsburg, who with King Philip II had been a chief benefactor of the college. Victoria surely knew Palestrina, who at the time was maestro di cappella of the nearby Seminario Romano, and may even have been taught by him. He was the only peninsular composer before Manuel Cardoso to master the subtleties of Palestrina’s style, as is evident in even his earliest publications.

    For at least five years from January 1569 Victoria was singer and organist at S Maria di Monserrato, the Aragonese church at Rome in which the two Spanish popes are buried; his monthly salary was one scudo. From 1568 to 1571 he may also have been maestro of Truchsess’s private chapel (Jacobus de Kerle had left the post by 18 August 1568). In September or October 1571 the rector of the Collegio Germanico engaged him to teach music to interested boarders at a monthly salary of 15 julios paid out of students’ fees. In 1573 the college authorities decided to separate the Italian boarders from the German seminarians, and on 17 October a parting ceremony was held, during which Victoria’s pupils and others sang his specially composed eight-part psalm Super flumina Babylonis. After the reorganization he was retained to teach the German seminarians, with whom he was able to converse in Latin, and was appointed maestro di cappella. The new rector, Michele Lauretano, paid him two scudi a month, increased to three in April 1574. On 9 January 1574 Pope Gregory XIII gave the Collegio Germanico the Palazzo di S Apollinare as their new home and on 15 April 1576 the adjoining church. A bull of the latter date prescribed that the student body sing the entire Office on at least 20 days of the church year. Victoria continued as maestro di cappella of the Collegio Germanico until 26 December 1576 or possibly a few months longer – his successor was in office by 20 September 1577. In 1575 he graduated from minor orders to the priesthood: Bishop Thomas Goldwell, the last surviving member of the pre-Reformation English hierarchy, ordained him deacon on 25 August and priest three days later. The ceremonies took place at the English church on the Via di Monserrato.

     Victoria next joined the Congregazione dell’Oratorio, a newly formed community of lay priests led by Filippo Neri, and on 8 June 1578 he received a chaplaincy at S Girolamo della Carità, which he held until 7 May 1585. During these years he published five sumptuous volumes in folio, one each of hymns, Magnificat settings and masses, an Office for Holy Week and an anthology of motets; the last-named contained two motets by Francisco Guerrero, who was a personal friend, and one by Francesco Soriano. From 1579 to 1585 he derived his personal income largely from five Spanish benefices conferred by Gregory XIII (S Miguel at Villalbarba, S Francisco and S Salvador at Béjar, S Andrés at Valdescapa and another rent in the diocese of Osma), which produced a total of 307 ducats a year. While a chaplain at S Girolamo della Carità, and even earlier, he further increased his income by occasionally serving at S Giacomo degli Spagnoli. Each year from 1573 to 1577 this church paid him four scudi for Corpus Christi services; in 1579 he received six scudi and 60 baiocchi and in 1580 nine scudi and 60 baiocchi; on 18 November 1582 he and a number of choristers received nine scudi for celebrating the victory by Spanish naval forces at the Battle of Terceira, in the Azores. In 1583 he was elected to the office of visitor to the sick and Spanish destitute in Rome, who were under the charitable care of the Confraternity of the Resurrection. Founded in 1579, this confraternity, attached to the church of S Giacomo, subsidized the celebration of the twice-yearly Forty Hours Devotion, and paid for Easter services. Victoria's disbursements to the sick and needy were reimbursed 23 times during the time that he was visitor to the sick (19 April 1583–3 April 1584). On two occasions, 31 October 1583 and 8 March 1584, he also received 50 julios to pay the eight singers of polyphony who sang the Salve Regina in the Forty Hours Devotion. The 25 signed receipts in the archive of S Giacomo degli Spagnoli constitute the largest single collection of documents in Victoria's handwriting.

     In the dedication of Missarum libri duo (1583) to Philip II, Victoria expressed his desire to return to Spain and to lead a quiet life as a priest. The king, as a reward for his homage, named him chaplain to his sister, the Dowager Empress María, daughter of Charles V, wife of Maximilian II and mother of two other emperors, who from 1581 lived in retirement with her daughter Princess Margarita at the Monasterio de las Descalzas de S Clara at Madrid. The convent was established in 1564 by Juana de la Cruz, sister of St Francisco de Borja, and liberally endowed by Charles V’s daughter Juana, who married João III of Portugal; it housed 33 strictly cloistered nuns, who heard Mass daily in an exquisite small chapel attended by priests who were required to be accomplished singers of plainchant and polyphony. Victoria served the dowager empress from 1587 at the latest until her death in 1603, with an annual salary of 120 ducats, and he was maestro of the convent choir until 1604. From then until his death he held the less arduous post of organist, earning 40,000 maravedís in each of his first two years in it and 75,000 a year thereafter. The chaplains enjoyed a number of benefits, including a personal servant, meals served in their private quarters adjacent to the convent and a month’s holiday each year. Until 1601 they were all required to participate in the daily singing of two masses, one a votive mass with deacon and sub-deacon. At the time of Victoria’s arrival the choir comprised 12 priests (three to a part) and four boys. Instrumentalists were engaged for Easter and for Corpus Christi and its octave. In 1601 a royal decree provided for a bassoonist, who was to play in all musical services, and for two clergymen chosen for their excellent voices to replace three of the foundation’s 12 chaplains. At the same time the number of choirboys was increased to six; they were required to practise daily and to learn plainchant, polyphony and counterpoint from the maestro.

     Life at the convent held such advantages for Victoria that no cathedral post could tempt him – in 1587, for example, he turned down invitations from Seville and Zaragoza to become maestro de capilla there. The élite of Madrid often went to services at the convent, where his works were regularly sung. It is doubtful whether any cathedral would have allowed him the extended leave that the convent gave him in 1592 to enable him to supervise the printing at Rome of his Missae … liber secundus, which he dedicated to María’s son Cardinal Alberto. On 18 July 1593 his motet Surge Debora et loquere canticum was performed in his presence by the Collegio Germanico during Mass and Vespers at S Apollinare to celebrate the defeat of the Turks at Sisak. On 2 February 1594 he joined the cortège at Palestrina’s funeral. A royal warrant of 21 January 1594 authorized the Spanish ambassador at Rome to pay him 150 ducats owing to him from a benefice at Córdoba. He returned to Madrid in 1595.

     María bequeathed three chaplaincies to the convent, one of which went to Victoria, who thereby continued to receive his salary of 120 ducats after her death. Most of his income, however, derived from his numerous simple benefices, whose yearly revenue had grown by 1605 to 1227 ducats through the addition of pensions from the dioceses of Córdoba, Segovia, Sigüenza, Toledo and Zamora. On 1 October 1598 he engaged Julio Junti de Modesti of Madrid to produce 200 copies of a collection of polychoral masses, Magnificat settings, motets and psalms in partbooks, which eventually appeared in 1600. The printer, who was paid 2500 reales in three instalments, was himself allowed an additional 100 copies to sell, beginning 12 months after publication. The masses of this collection were extremely popular at the time, but are not frequently performed today. The nine-part Missa pro victoria was a favourite work of Philip III; the eight-part Missa Ave regina coelorum and Missa Alma Redemptoris mater were so popular in Mexico City that in 1640 they had to be recopied by hand because the original partbooks were worn out. Victoria or his agents sent sets to such distant places as Graz, Urbino and Bogotá, Colombia. In accompanying letters he asked for contributions to cover printing costs and in at least one instance solicited money to secure the release of a younger brother from prison. His strong family ties were especially evident during the last years of his life, when two of his brothers and two of his sisters lived in Madrid; one of the brothers, Agustín, was also a chaplain of the Descalzas Reales convent. Victoria died near the convent in the chaplains’ residence. He was buried at the convent, but his tomb has not been identified.

II. Works: general characteristics.

     Victoria not only left far less music than either Palestrina or Lassus but also limited himself to setting Latin sacred texts. He had a habit of reissuing works that he had already published: more than half the contents of five of his 11 prints had appeared in earlier prints, and of prints subsequent to his first only the first consists almost entirely of newly published music. Moreover, unlike Palestrina, he succeeded in publishing, usually in a luxurious format, nearly the whole of what is now recognized as his authentic oeuvre. Thus the first seven volumes of the eight-volume complete edition of 1902–13 consist wholly of music published during his lifetime; some of that in the eighth is spurious.

    Victoria’s posthumous reputation has largely rested on some plangent motets in his first publication (1572) and on the Officium defunctorum of 1605, composed on the death of the Empress María. Such memorable motets as O vos omnes and Vere languores nostros and a passage such as the setting of the words ‘nihil enim sunt dies mei’ in Versa est in luctum from the Office of the Dead do indeed have a poignancy rarely encountered in other music of the period. Poignancy and mystical fervour are, however, not the only emotions in Victoria’s music, nor indeed the predominant ones. His contemporaries and immediate successors certainly saw a different side of his artistic nature. One astute critic who knew his whole oeuvre as few do today was João IV of Portugal, who, noting in his Defensa de la música moderna (1649) that he instinctively leant more towards the joyful than to the sad, observed that ‘although there is much in his Holy Week volume [1585] that exactly suits the text, nonetheless his disposition being naturally sunny he never stays downcast for long’. João IV also gave the lie to another misconception about Victoria still prevalent in the 20th century when he endorsed the liberal use of instruments to double the vocal lines, and there is other contemporary evidence confirming that doubling was widely practised in his works circulating in Spain.

III. Masses.

     Confirmation of Victoria’s generally cheerful disposition can be found in his own motets that he chose as the basis of his parody masses. He based seven of his masses on his own motets – Ascendens Christus, Dum complerentur, O magnum mysterium, O quam gloriosum, Quam pulchri sunt, Trahe me post te and Vidi speciosam; the masses are parodies of motets for Ascension, Pentecost, the Circumcision, All Saints, the Conception, any Lady feast and the Assumption respectively. Five of these motets end with exultant ‘Alleluias’. His three masses based on his own Marian antiphons Salve regina, Alma Redemptoris and Ave regina, as well as the Missa Laetatus sum, based on his own psalm, display similarly positive qualities. Three other parody masses are based on works by Guerrero, Morales and Palestrina respectively. The Missa pro victoria is one of several Spanish battle masses based on Janequin’s La guerre.

     There are 20 authentic masses by Victoria, all published during his lifetime. 15 are parodies, four are paraphrases (Ave maris stella, De Beata Maria Virgine, Pro defunctis of 1583 and the mass sections of the Officium defunctorum), and one, Missa quarti toni, is mostly a free mass, which does, however, at the close of both Gloria and Credo (‘Amen’) quote verbatim the music of the last appearance of ‘ipsum quem genuit adoravit’ in his Purification motet Senex puerum portabat. The four masses published in the 1600 miscellany, all of which are provided with organ scores paralleling Chorus I, contrast in a number of ways with those published earlier: they are for two choirs, one for three (Laetatus), and the three new masses are in an undeviating F major. There are subtle structural differences too, such as the greater use of free episodic material, and the repetition of polyphonic blocks. These are sometimes from movement to movement: for instance, in the Missa pro victoria, first Kyrie, bars 1–8 = Agnus Dei, bars 1–8; second Kyrie, 36–42 = Agnus Dei, 16–22; Gloria, 1–3 = Credo, 83–5; Gloria, 28–34 = Agnus Dei, 8 (beat 3) – 15 (beat 3); and Gloria, 59–76 = Credo, 133–50. But there are also repetitions within the same movement: in the Missa pro victoria, Gloria, bars 59–64 = bars 67–72; Credo, 133–8 = 141–6; and Sanctus, 21–5 (beat 1) = 25–9 (beat 1) = 47–51 (beat 1) = 51–5 (beat 1). Another feature of Victoria’s late masses is his frequent recourse to triple metre: whereas Ave maris stella and Dum complerentur (both 1576) do not contain a single bar of triple time, the 1600 masses are full of them, the Missa pro victoria composed to celebrate the Treaty of Vervins (1598) alone containing 134.

     A prominent stylistic trait in masses from all periods of Victoria’s career, and in other works, too, is the kind of tonal fluctuation represented by melodic progressions such as F–G–F#, F#–G–F and E–F–E, which are not found in, for example, the works of Palestrina or Guerrero. He anticipated both composers when in 1576 he chose to base a mass on one of his own motets (Dum complerentur). In his middle-period masses, however, he shared with Guerrero a fondness for paired imitation. His masses are on the whole much more concise than those of Palestrina or Guerrero; this is particularly true of those in the 1592 and 1600 volumes. Unlike Palestrina, he broke up his masses with frequent emphatic cadences. He often wrote functional rather than modal harmony, even in the Missa quarti toni. The modes that he used in his parody masses have been tabulated by Rive (1969), who drew attention to the high incidence of the Dorian and Ionian modes (six and five masses respectively) compared with the Mixolydian (three masses), a tendency also found in his other music. His chromatic alterations in his parodies, especially the later ones, make the Dorian mode sound increasingly like a minor key and the Ionian more and more like a major key.»

     This is wonderful performance. Very «British», with extraordinary sonority –in my opinion this sound is absolutely amazing for Victoria's music– but really expressive too.
I reccomend this album, especially for the fantastic critical notes prepared by Alfonso de Vicente, an specialist of this composer.

     Music for reflection and introspection. An absolutely masterwork in the Western History of Music.

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