Musica Portugaliæ: Music of Renaissance Portugal & Brazil
Psalm 5 Claude Goudimel (1514-20–1572)
Quem tem farelos Estevão de Brito (ca. 1575–1641)
Esta trabalhosa vida
Quamto tempo trabalhei
Salió a la fuente Jacinta
De la hermosura de Filis
Parce mihi Domine Francisco de Garro (ca. 1556–1623)
In die tribulationis Damião de Góis (1502–1574)
Veni, sponsa Christi de Brito
Pange linga Urreda-Brito
Pater superni luminis de Brito
Alleluia Francisco Velez
Parce mihi Manuel de Tavares (ca.1585–1638)
Magnificat Manuel Cardoso (1566–1650)
Shannon Canavin & Allison Mondel, soprano
Thea Lobo & Aaron Russo, alto
Jason McStoots & Eric Rice, tenor
Brian Church, bass
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
St. Anthony’s Church, 400 Cardinal Medeiros Way, Cambridge
Friday, May 20, 2005
First Lutheran Church of Boston, 299 Berkeley Street, Boston
Sunday, May 22, 2005
St. Lawrence Martyr Church, 100 Summer Street, New Bedford
Notes on the Program
Portugal lays claim to the first church musician known by name on the Iberian Peninsula, one Andreas, who was the princes cantorum (“leader of the singers”) at Mértola from 489 to 525. Polyphony seems to have first appeared in Portugal in 959, the year in which a convent inherited several liturgical books from Muma Donna of Gulmarães. The region enjoyed a long history of musical exchange with neighboring Spain and Italy, and as Portugal’s exploration expanded throughout the 15th century, her travelers encountered foreign musicians and employed many of them in her courts. While the Portuguese composers from 1550 to 1650 were very familiar with the compositional practices of Palestrina (and the church’s mandate to emulate that style following the Council of Trent), they were more interested in continuing to model their music on that of the Franco-Flemish school of Dufay, Ockeghem, Josquin, Gombert, and others, finding that this style better suited their inherent expressive and dramatic temperament. When combined with the traditions carried from port to port through oral traditions, the Portuguese school of polyphony amassed a rich repertory of music that it in turn took to its many colonies, including those in Brazil, whose own indigenous musical forms and subsequent musical heritage were shaped by Portugal’s influence.
Luiz Heitor Correa de Azevedo has noted that “music, as it was known in Europe…was simply transplanted overseas,” and the travelers almost always had a religious mission. Throughout its colonial period, music in Brazil was directly related to church services, and was used to connect with (and convert) the native peoples; there is evidence, however, of secular music flourishing, particularly in rural areas. We attempt with this program not to trace the fascinating modification of indigenous Brazilian folk music or the development of the “transported” Portuguese music by influences native and foreign, but rather give a picture of the music that may have been taken to Brazil by the first Portuguese missionaries. We also include as a matter of interest a piece recorded as part of France’s failed 1557 colony: the convoy dispatched to meet Chevalier de Villegagnon in Rio de Janeiro entered a small hall and apparently sang Goudimel’s setting of Psalm 5 in thanks for having safely reached their destination.
Francisco de Garro (ca. 1556–1623) was born in Alfaro, Spain, and held the position of maestro de capilla (“master of the chapel”) at Sigüenza Cathedral until 1593. He then moved to the Court of Lisbon. Although there are numerous references to Garro in 16th- and 17th-century writings, no details concerning his life and work survive, save six letters between him and the Lisbon court regarding his employment and duties there. His two collections of liturgical works were published in Lisbon, and while there is evidence he published additional music in Castilian, Portuguese, and Latin, the 1609 volumes are his only known surviving music. His Parce mihi Domine for five voices sets a text from the Book of Job and is laid out in two clearly defined sections, the first comprised of a quietly beseeching plea for mercy, and the second a sudden flurry of activity.
Damião de Gois (1502–1574) was a Portuguese humanist, chronicler, diplomat, and composer. He traveled throughout Europe and was an acquaintance of both Erasmus and the music theorist Heinrich Glarean. At age 11, de Gois was a page at the palace of King Manuel I, and he was later sent to Antwerp. In 1542 he was captured by the French, but returned to Lisbon, where he was named royal archivist and historian by John III. During the last few years of his life, de Gois was sent to prison after having been denounced by the Inquisition for consorting with heretic leaders and for singing and playing strange music on the Sabbath. He was at last released and allowed to return to his home in Alemquer. In die tribulationis cannot be attributed to de Gois definitively, since it is ascribed in its two sources to only “Damianus,” but he is the likely composer. Its thoroughly imitative, flowing counterpoint owes much to the Franco-Flemish style, though its three-voice texture is somewhat unusual.
Manuel de Tavares held the position of maestro de capilla at the cathedrals of Baeza, Murcia, Las Palmas, and Cuenca. Upon his death in 1638, his son Nicolas, then maestro at Cádiz, replaced him at Cuenca. His surviving music can be found at Las Palmas and Puebla, from whose archives his seven-voice Parce mihi Domine comes. This dramatic setting abounds in expressive dissonances and changes in texture designed to further the rhetoric of its deeply penitential text. In this, it reflects the influence of Italian madrigalists, particularly Claudio Monteverdi, on the Iberian Peninsula.
Nothing is known of the life of Estêvão de Brito (ca. 1575–1641) before his arrival at Badajoz in 1597. His works were praised throughout Spain, and it appears he was a pupil of the renowned Filipe de Magalhães (1571–1652). From Badajoz, de Brito traveled to Talavera and later received his holy ordination in 1608, allowing him to be appointed chaplain of the choir (a post which required “pure blood”). In 1613, de Brito transferred to Màlaga where he served as the cathedral’s maestro de capilla, composing and giving lessons at the college. The composer asked repeatedly to be released from his teaching duties to rehearse the choir for the very important services of Christmas, Corpus Christi, and other high holy days, for which composers were required to write extensive villancicos and chanzonetas; while de Brito’s are certainly contained in the volumes upon volumes of these works surviving in libraries today, none have yet been identified. De Brito was a composer for Portugal’s royal court, and much of his secular music must have been performed there.
de Brito’s Quem tem farelos is a rustic villancico: it employs triple meter and a great deal of rhythmic play (especially “hemiola,” in which the accent pattern of the meter is changed, rendering it momentarily duple) and it sets several stanzas of text interspersed with a refrain. Quamto tempo trabalhei and Esta trabalhosa vida are in a similar style, with refrains framing very short stanzas of poetry. Salió a la fuente and De la hermosura de Filis are less popular in character, employing some of the harmonic language and imitative texture of the 16th-century madrigal while retaining some of the rhythmic play favored on the Iberian Peninsula. Veni, sponsa Christi is a short setting of a plainchant antiphon (heard in long notes in the lowest voice), while Pater superni luminis is a more extended work; both demonstrate de Brito’s considerable compositional ability in the international style of late-Renaissance church music.
In 1537, Francisco Velez is reported to have headed the list of cathedral singers at the Évora diocese, and in 1544 he took charge of the choir school. In 1563 he was granted a 5-year printing privilege, but his subsidy seems never to have materialized. Nothing else of Velez’s life is known. Apart from two works by his predecessor Mateo de Aranda (a Spaniard), Velez’s Alleluia is the earliest example of the Évora school of polyphony. It is based on a plainchant alleluia and its verse, which are heard in long note-values in the first alto voice (sung here by our countertenor) and paired with a second, slow-moving voice (sung here by a tenor). Above these are faster-moving soprano parts, resulting in a rich web of polyphony.
Manuel Cardoso (1566–1650) was also a student at Évora, one of Portugal’s main musical centers, serving as choirmaster at the cathedral there until 1588; the following year he took his vows for the priesthood at Lisbon’s Convento do Carmo and became their organist and choral conductor. From 1613 until his death, he served the Duke of Barcelos at the Vila Viçosa. While the earliest existing example of sacred Portuguese polyphony dates from 1490, the true flowering of Portugal’s polyphony is said to have begun in 1613 with the publication of Cardoso’s Magnificat settings, the publication of which seems to have been inspired by those of his friend Duarte Lôbo (1565–1646). Cardoso’s Magnificat primi toni is a fine example of the Franco-Flemish influence on the Iberian Peninsula, featuring free imitation based on the recitation tone for the first mode (“primi toni”) of the Gregorian repertoire and, in the last verse, a strict canon between the two sopranos.
© 2005 Shannon Canavin