Cori Spezzati: Double Choir Music for Voice and Brass
Credidi, propter quod locutus sum Adrian Willaert (ca. 1490–1562)
Nunc Dimittis Francesco Santacroce (ca. 1487–?1556)
O Sacrum Convivium Dominique Phinot (ca. 1510–ca. 1556)
À Dieu, Loyse Phinot
Iam lucis orto sidere Orlande de Lassus (1530/1532–1594)
Toccata nona del nono Tono Claudio Merulo (1533–1604)
Exsurgat Deus Andrea Gabrieli (ca. 1533–1585)
Magnificat Giovanni Gabrieli (ca. 1555–1612)
Angelus ad pastores ait Hans Leo Hassler (ca. 1562–1612)
Cantate Domino Hieronymous Praetorius (1560–1629)
Hodie completi sunt Giovanni Gabrieli
Suite 15 from Banchetto Musicale Johann Schein (1586–1630)
Padouana - Gagliarda - Courente - Allemande
Lobe den Herren Heinrich Schütz (1585–1672)
Gelobet und gepreiset Michael Praetorius (ca. 1571–1621)
Shannon Canavin, soprano
Martin Near, countertenor
Jason McStoots & Zachary Wilder, tenor
Paul Max Tipton, baritone
Michael Collver, cornetto & alto recorder
Daniel Stillman, alto & bass dulcian & alto recorder
Tom Zajac, sackbut & soprano recorder
Mack Ramsey, bass sackbut & tenor recorder
Andrus Madsen & Vivian Montgomery, organ
Saturday, January 28, 2012 at 8pm
University Lutheran Church, 66 Winthrop Street, Cambridge
Sunday, January 29, 2012 at 3pm
First Lutheran Church of Boston, 299 Berkeley Street, Boston
Notes on the Program
The vague period of transition from late Renaissance to early Baroque, with its predilection for polychorality and the exploitation of spatial effects, gave rise to some of the most impressive large-scale works of earlier centuries. By 1600, works for divided choirs influenced by earlier north Italian composers had become common in large European churches. Several German Protestant composers, most notably Hans Leo Hassler and Heinrich Schütz, learned the style directly from the most famous Italian masters, Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli in Venice at the Basilica of San Marco. Cori spezzati—literally “broken choirs”—was a term used to describe the division of musical forces into musically, and sometimes also spatially, distinct groups. Such antiphonal use of two groups of singers is traceable to Jewish and early Christian liturgical music, but the deliberate, artistic development of the practice dates from the later years of the fifteenth century and is associated primarily with psalm settings by composers in and around Venice in the mid-sixteenth century. From the early Italian masters Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli to their Franco-Flemish and German counterparts, our program offers a sampling of some the magnificent works for double choir for voices and brass.
Possibly born in Bruges in about 1490, Adrian Willaert was a pupil of Jean Mouton in Paris. In about 1514 he became a chapel singer to Cardinal Ippolito I d’Este, living variously in Rome, Ferrara, and Hungary. In 1527 he was appointed maestro di cappella at St. Mark’s in Venice; he remained in that position until his death. Through his presence, Venice (and St. Mark’s in particular) rose to a level of high musical importance in the sixteenth century. His pupils included Rore, Andrea Gabrieli, Porta, and the theorist Gioseffo Zarlino.
Willaert was a many-sided composer but is famous especially for his church music, much of which is written in a highly individual and sonorous style that was eminently suitable for grand, solemn occasions. His Salmi spezzati (1550) ushered in a period of great popularity for polychoral music. These works, characterized by simple, diatonic harmonies and clear text-setting, do little to exploit contrast or dialogue effects, but the technique used became the chief characteristic of Venetian church music of the seicento.
Credidi, propter quod locutus sum
MN TZ PT MR | MC JM ZW DS + Andrus & Vivian
Little is known about the composer Francesco Santacroce, one of the earliest composers to use cori spezzati. Born in Padua in around 1487, he was maestro di cappella of Treviso Cathedral, and his extant music includes four five-part motets and psalm settings for double choir. Santacroce’s music, as seen in his psalms and Nunc dimittis for compline and psalms for vespers, possesses grea, t harmonic clarity. While he does occasionally enliven the texture contrapuntally he does not always avoid the monotony inherent in so much reliance on homophony. He treats the half-verse as the antiphonal unit, almost invariably exchanging choirs at flex, mediant, and ending, and occasionally elsewhere. However, his varying of the speed of choral interchange is more restrained than some of his contemporaries, and there is less text-repetition except in the doxology and less disruption to the verse structure.
MC DS ZW PT VM | MN JM TZ MR AM
Information about Dominique Phinot’s career is confined to a handful of documents from the 1540s and 1550s which indicate that he was a musician in the service of Duke Guidobaldo II of Urbino. A memorandum of 1544 records that the Duke recommended him for the post of cantor (singer or choirmaster) at the cathedral in Pesaro. Since all of Phinot’s works received their first printings during the period 1538–1555, the composer is likely to have been in his late twenties by the first date, in which case he would have been born around 1510. From Girolamo Cardano’s essay Theonoston, which implies that Phinot was executed for homosexual practices, we learn that his death occurred before 1561.
Phinot’s output consists of over a hundred motets, two Masses, and settings of Vesper Psalms and the Magnificat, as well as two books of French chansons and two Italian madrigals. The acclaim with which his sacred compositions were received is evident both in the frequency of their publications as well as in the writings of his contemporaries. He was renowned as a master of imitative polyphonic writing, a trait which he shares with Gombert, Clemens non Papa, Willaert, and others of that generation who were the successors of Josquin Desprez. In his eight-voice sacred works Phinot builds upon those essential features of double-choir technique which first appeared in the liturgical music of northern Italy during the early decades of the sixteenth century. Psalms and canticles, which had for long been associated with ritual antiphonal performance, frequently inspired double-choir settings by composers such as Ruffino d’Assisi and Francesco Santacroce, who already exploited varied lengths of choral exchange, contrasts of high and low register between ensembles, and chordal writing, in order to create general double-choir dialogue.
The Communion motet O sacrum convivium, which creates a serene mood of contemplation in which phrases are passed between the two choirs before being repeated by the full ensemble, as if each aspect of the Eucharist is presented, discussed, and finally reaffirmed by a congregation. À Dieu, Loyse is a double-choir canon published in 1548. Zarlino described this type of piece as one “with the parts doubled up, that is to say moving the parts two by two in consequence or imitation.” The pitch interval in À Dieu, Loyse is the unison and double-choir textures are only intermittently suggested.
O sacrum convivium
MN JM ZW PT | MC DS TZ MR AM
À Dieu, Loyse
SC JM ZW PT | MC DS TZ MR
Orlande de Lassus was born in Mons and got his start as a choirboy. An often disputed story has the child Lassus kidnapped three times on account of his beautiful singing voice; the only certainty is that by 1544 he had joined the service of Ferrante Gonzaga, Viceroy of Sicily. A stopover in Mantua allowed Lassus to absorb prevailing Italian influences. Lassus spent less than a year in Sicily and transferred to Milan for the remainder of the 1540s; he often used an Italian form of his name, Orlando di Lasso. In 1551, Lassus was made choirmaster at St. John of Lateran in Rome, but remained only until 1553, being succeeded by Palestrina. In 1557, the German Duke Albrecht V engaged Lassus’s services as a singer at the court in Munich, and his status was upgraded to Kapellmeister in 1561. His position enabled considerable travel, and Lassus made frequent trips to Venice, where he met and made friends with the Gabrielis. Judging from the range of settings, both sacred and secular, coming from Lassus in these years, it is apparent he was asked to supply music for a wide variety of events at the court of Duke Albrecht. The flood of published editions, both authorized and not, of Lassus’s music during this time established him as the most popular composer in Europe, and in 1574 he was made a Knight of the Golden Spur by Pope Gregory XIII.
In 1579, Duke Albrecht V died, and the longstanding extravagance of his court left his successor, Duke Wilhelm, with little choice but to make deep cuts in the entertainment budget. This had a direct and negative effect on Lassus’s fortunes, but nonetheless he declined an offer in 1580 to relocate to the Court at Dresden. By the late 1580s, the number of new pieces Lassus undertook began to slow down. In the months before his death, Lassus succeeded in bringing to life his last great masterwork, the Lagrime di San Pietro, in itself a summation of the highest forms of Renaissance musical art. He died at about the age of 62, and in 1604 his sons published an edition of his collected works entitled Magnus opus musicum.
One of Lassus’s first published eight-voice motets, Jam lucis orto sidere is also the earliest of Lasso’s Latin drinking songs that parody Christian hymns (at least the earliest to be published). Probably of Italian origin, the parody follows the metric structure of the original hymn, but the parody’s meaning is not related in any way to that of the original. How Lassus came by the text would be difficult to establish. He could have found it during his own years in Italy, or perhaps from a local source in Germany, since such parodies were also popular there. Boetticher suggests that Lasso’s setting is close in style to that of his polychoral celebratory motets. This may be true in a general way, although the rapid fire exchanges between the two choirs are livelier than in motets addressed to an exalted personage. The varieties of wine mentioned in the second part of the motet are an intriguing side issue. Falernian, Greek, and Latin correspond to varieties of wine or wine grapes known in Lassus’s time or earlier, all of which survive in some form today. “Guernace” is harder to identify. Perhaps the most likely possibility is the wine and its grape now known as Grenache (Garnacha in Spanish), although Vernaccia might also be possible.
Iam lucis orto sidere
MN TZ PT MR | MC JM ZW DS
Andrea Gabrieli was organist at St. Geremia (now St. Lucia) in Cannareggio, northern Venice, in 1557, when he took part unsuccessfully in the competition for the post of organist at St Mark’s. Five years later he went to Munich to work in the Bavarian court chapel under Lassus, and the two composers became friends. Gabrieli returned to Venice in 1566 and this time was successful when he applied for a position as one of the organists at St Mark’s. He remained there until his death.
Gabrieli became very popular with the Venetian publishing houses, contributing to many anthologies of madrigals as well as producing his own books of motets, madrigals, and lighter forms. He was both prolific and versatile, and a master of the caricatures embodied in villanellas, mascheratas, and giustinianas. He also wrote some fine church music, notably two books of motets (1565 and 1576), in which the long, flowing lines of traditional polyphony in the style of Palestrina are replaced by shorter motifs. He composed pieces for instrumental ensemble and some attractive organ music, notably the canzonas, some of which are arrangements or imitations of French chansons.
Gabrieli’s most famous work, however, is his grand music for the splendid festivals of St Mark’s, using the cori spezzati arrangement which he had learnt from the former Venetian maestro Willaert and from Lassus. By adding an instrumental ensemble to the choir, contrasting solo voices with the chorus and high voices with low ones, and simplifying the harmony to avoid problems occasioned by performing with forces separated by quite large distances, he wrote music that was perfectly suited to state occasions—neither too difficult for the relatively unmusical listener, nor lacking in splendor to impress visiting statesmen. This music was published in a posthumous collection called Concerti (1587), assembled by his nephew Giovanni, and was widely imitated throughout Europe.
The text to Exsurgat Deus, from Numbers 10:35 and which appears in Psalm 67, is used in the liturgy for the consecration of churches. To some extent the idea of a “classic” polychoral style is an abstraction whose definition is by no means strictly applicable even to some Venetian polychoral music; thorough-going polychoral pieces are rare. Although by comparison Andrea tends towards strict polychoralism, we still find works ostensibly for two or even three choirs which, to a greater or lesser extent, mix voices from different choirs outside tuttis.
MC MN DS PT AM | JM ZW TZ MR VM
Giovanni Gabrieli’s works could be considered the summit of musical expression of the Renaissance, the dramatic climax of three centuries of polyphonic writing. Born in Venice in 1557, he was almost certainly a pupil of his uncle and followed him by going to Munich about 1575; he remained there as organist in the court chapel under Lassus. By 1584 he was back in Venice at St. Mark’s, and was made permanent organist the following year: uncle and nephew were now colleagues. He continued to work at St. Mark’s until his death. Also in 1585 he was appointed organist to the religious confraternity of the Scuola Grande di S. Rocco, for which he regularly arranged the sumptuous music given on the day of its patron saint.
Even before his return to Venice Gabrieli had acquired a reputation as a madrigal composer, but his interest in secular music declined. Much of what survives from these earlier years seems to be occasional music, such as the grand choruses for plays given in the courtyard of the doge’s palace. In church music he took over his uncle’s role as provider of large-scale stately works, many of them for cori spezzati. He developed the idiomatic use of instruments, made the contrasts of sound and texture more acute, increased the use of dissonance, and wrote in a less simple, more devotional style than had Andrea. His first book of Sacrae symphoniae (1597) includes a mass and motets; there are some especially fine works for Christmas in this volume, such as Hodie Christus natus est and O Jesu mi dulcissime. He also wrote music for instrumental ensemble, again using cori spezzati.
An impressive stream of pupils (including Schütz) came from all over Europe to study with Gabrieli. He directed their attention to the modern madrigalian techniques developed by Monteverdi, and his own later church music—published posthumously in a second volume of Sacrae symphoniae (1615)—mirrors this interest, several motets using discords and jagged melody for the expression of the anguish of sin (his setting of Timor et tremor shows this at its most extreme). He moved away from cori spezzati in favor of contrasts between solo voice, chorus, and instruments, deploying them in separate sections unified by refrains. This technique can be seen at its best in the famous motets In ecclesiis and Quem vidistis pastores. His later instrumental music explores new formal patterns as well as exploiting the virtuosity of cornettists and violinists. Most of his later music was not published until after his death, and he had little influence on the younger Italians. In Germany, however, he was revered for many years through the enthusiasm of Schütz, and it was a German scholar, Carl von Winterfeld (1784–1852), who was responsible for the revival of interest in him in the nineteenth century.
Gabrieli’s Magnificat for triple choir presents the text in a clear fashion as each choir makes a statement until all twelve voices come together at “Deposuit potentes” as the mighty are brought down by the hand of God.
SC MC TZ AM | MN ZW PT DS | JM MR VM
Hans Leo Hassler was the second of three sons (all of whom became organists) of a Nuremberg organist. In 1584 he went to Venice to study with Andrea Gabrieli and returned to Germany two years later to become organist to the banker Octavian II Fugger; this was his most productive composing period. After Octavian’s death in 1600 he left Augsburg, returning for four years to Nuremberg, after which he moved to Ulm (where he married at the age of 46) before ending his life as organist to the Elector of Saxony at Dresden.
Hassler was a leading composer of his day. His Latin polyphonic and polychoral works were influenced by Lassus and his circle and by the Venetian school. His secular compositions include Italian madrigals and rhythmic Tanzlieder (dance-songs). A Protestant, he published some significant hymn and psalm settings for the Lutheran liturgy. The well-known “Passion Chorale” O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden was adapted from one of his German love songs; his All Lust und Freud was used by Schütz for a psalm setting still sung by Protestant congregations today.
In his Angelus ad pastores ait, the message of the angel to the shepherds is first announced by the high choir (SSAT) and echoed by a five-part choir of classical dimensions (SATTB), both choirs joining for the final nine-part “Alleluja.”
Angelus ad pastores ait
MC SC DS ZW | MN JM TZ PT MR
Of the four organist-composers from the Hamburg Praetorius family (unrelated to Michael Praetorius), Hieronymous Praetorius became the first Hamburg musician of international renown. Born in Hamburg, the son of the St. Jacobi organist Jacob Praetorius, the elder, Hieronymous studied organ and composition with his father and in Köln. After two years as organist in Erfurt, he returned to Hamburg in 1582 to assist his father and followed him as organist at the St. Jacobikirche from 1586 until his own death in 1629. During this lengthy tenure, his organ works were copied into The Visby Tablature (1611), and his vocal works in the German-Venetian polychoral style were composed and published. His five-volume Opus musicum appeared between 1599 and 1625 and contains 100 Latin and German motets in five to twenty parts (for one to four choirs), six Masses, and nine Magnificats for double choir. This collection of the earliest sacred polyphonic music to be published in Hamburg displays the initial stage of Italian influence on north German sacred music and exhibits a fascinating and imaginative blend of old and new styles. Later composers adopted more progressive Italianate elements, but Hieronymous Praetorius was the most significant and influential pioneer, his works being owned by many north German churches and forming a standard part of their choral repertoire during the entire seventeenth century.
Praetorius’s music sounds most closely related to works by Lassus and Hassler, but it is more harmonically conceived and exhibits more varied structures and contrasts. Often a thick and animated texture is created by varied rhythms, interpolated rests, syncopations, disjunctive text statements, and motivic interplay. The quasi-polyphonic result, mixed with homophonic and strictly imitative sections produces Praetorius’s distinctive style, one densely sonorous, often rhythmically exciting, and musically satisfying. Especially in the works for divided choir, such as Cantate Domino, one hears contrasts of high and low voices, short-breathed alternation and echoing, and intense tutti passages leading to impressive climactic points.
MC SC MN JM | DS ZW PT MR AM
Giovanni Gabrieli’s Hodie completi sunt manages to combine combines the characteristics of clarifying the texture and simplifying the harmony while offering a consistently contrapuntal texture, but is also very much concerned with contrasts of sonority and abrupt changes of movement.
Hodie completi sunt
MN ZW TZ MR | MC JM PT DS AM
Declared “the father of musicians, to whom the Germans…were indebted” by Johann Mattheson in 1740, Heinrich Schütz was arguably the most important and influential composer of seventeenth-century Germany. Trained as a choir-boy at the court at Kassel, Schütz went on to study law in Marburg before making his first sojourn to Venice, Italy from 1609 to 1612 to study music with Giovanni Gabrieli. He then served briefly as organist at Kassel before moving to Dresden in 1615 to work as court composer to the Elector of Saxony. His duties there included composing music for major court ceremonies, ensuring that the Kapelle was well-staffed, and supervising the choirboys’ musical education. Because of the prestige of his position, Schütz was soon able to extend his activities beyond the confines of Dresden, and was called to oversee the reorganization of musical activities in Reuss and Magdeburg. In 1655, he accepted an ex officio post of Kapellmeister at Wolfenbüttel, and died of a stroke in 1672 at the age of 87. Schütz was of great importance in bringing new musical ideas to Germany from Italy, and integrating these styles with the unique declamatory and expressive styles of the German language. The style of the North German organ school derives largely from Schütz (as well as from Netherlander Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck); a century later this music was to culminate in the work of Johann Sebastian Bach.
Lobe den Herren appears in Schütz’s 1619 Psalmen Davids, his first sacred composition. He described the work as “German psalms in the Italian style, and was at pains to emphasize that he had been “diligently supervised by[his] beloved and world-renowned preceptor Master Johan Gabrieli.” Certainly some important features of that work derive from techniques pioneered by Giovanni Gabrieli. Foremost among them is the mastery of color and sonority, the skill and imagination brought to the deployment of the widest range of compositional techniques. This goes hand in hand with the opulent treatment of words, which are vividly illustrated—even painted—and interpreted in a manner which nonetheless never allows them ot become detached form the musical context but always leaves them integrated in it. Other elements of Schütz’s Italian style include the alternation between different units among his forces, producing an effect similar to registral changes, the building of immense crescendos by gradually increasing the number of parts and voices, and the multifarious contrasts, resulting most notably from the juxtaposition of tuttis and solo ensembles, or of vertical harmony and linear polyphony. There is further the optional participation of instruments as an additional sound source. Finally, the distribution of the musical means employed among groups placed in physical separation from each other has the result that, to a certain extent, the building itself becomes part of the composition as its spaces and plans fill with the music. The Psalmen Davids consists of 26 polychoral settings of psalms and two other Biblical texts, the majority of them very sumptuous and imposing in style. The concerto Lobe den Herren is the only purely vocal setting in the collection.
Lobe den Herren
SC MN ZW PT | MC DS TZ MR VM
Michael Prætorius’s life spanned the transition from the High Renaissance to the early Baroque. Of the leading exponents of advanced Italianate techniques was Michael Praetorius, who alone among major German composers of his era never actually studied in Italy—as he repeatedly regretted. Born in Kreuzberg, Thuringia, as Michael Schultheiss (Latinized as Praetorius), he was the son of a Lutheran pastor. He spent most of his professional life as an organist, Kantor, and Kapellmeister in the Lutheran cities and states of Northern Germany. After studies at Frankfurt an der Oder, at 24 he entered the service of Duke Heinrich Julius of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel as an organist, and in 1604 he also assumed the duties of court Kapellmeister. Upon the death of his patron in 1613, Praetorius entered the service of the Elector Johann Georg of Saxony at the Dresden court, where he would remain until 1616, when he returned to Wolfenbüttel. While in Dresden, he also served as Kapellmeister to the administrator of the Magdeburg bishopric and prior of the monastery at Ringelheim. Praetorius returned to his old position in Wolfenbüttel, but due to regular travel and failing health, was not reappointed in 1620. He died a wealthy man the following year, and directed that the greater portion of his fortune go to organizing a foundation for the poor.
Gelobet und gepreiset is found in Praetorius’s Polyhymnia Caduceatrix et Panegyrica, published in 1619 (the same year as Schütz’s Psalmen Davids). This massive project was to comprise 40 works in 15 volumes, but only three were published due to Praetorius’s ill health; he appears to have included works intended for later volumes to ensure that all the “new categories and manners of concertized music” would be represented in the published volumes. Like Schütz and Monteverdi, Praetorius tried to unite old and new. With few exceptions, Lutheran chorales are combined with new features Italian music Praetorius had learned from many Italian manuscripts and prints he owned. The most striking features are richly ornamented writing for concertat voices accompanied by basso continuo, individual instrumental choirs that often play sinfonias as preludes, echo devices, and repeated ritornelli.
Composed when the German states were on the brink of war, Praetorius named his work Festive Concert of Peace and Joy and wrote expressive works not assigned to specific church feast days, as most pieces were, but rather reflected the composer’s hopes for peace in the tense situation that prevailed just before the Thirty Years War. This can clearly be seen in the second verse of Gelobet und gepreiset—the text of which was probably written by Praetorius—“da grosse Not dringt her und Gefahr auf allen Seiten” (when great need presses upon us, and danger from all sides) and which was probably performed during Emperor Ferdinand’s visit to Dresden in 1617.
Gelobet und gepreiset
MN JM ZW PT VM | MC DS TZ MR AM
Notes by Shannon Canavin