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La Rue: The Complete Magnificats, Three Salve Reginas


Release Date: 08/28/2007 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8557896   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Pierre de La Rue
Conductor:  Peter Schubert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Viva Voce
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 0 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This well-priced and welcome two-CD set from VivaVoce offers the complete Magnificats and three of the Salve Reginas by a contemporary of Josquin's ... well sung and presented ... should appeal to lovers of Renaissance choral polyphony ...

Pierre de La Rue (c.1460-1518) was of Josquin’s (c.1440-1521) generation. His compositional skills made use of old and new techniques: imitative textures and new ways to achieve a variety of effects and elicit a variety of emotions in five- and six-part writing for example. Yet for this innovation, remarkably little of his output is in the current catalogue: a Clerks’ Group Gaudeamus (307) CD with the third Salve Regina is closest; masses on Naxos 8.554656, and the rest anthologies.
Read more So this is a significant – and warmly welcomed - release.

The singing of Montréal-based VivaVoce is clean and characterful. Because the texture of La Rue is not so dense as that of Josquin, there is a greater emphasis on the individual singers than on unified ensemble sound. It’s more of collection of soloists. Which is not to imply any lack of polish or roughness. In fact, the singing – the voices are very closely miked – is real and personal with a note of purpose and urgency throughout. The bases, of which there are five - as many as the higher registers - are particularly earthy and compelling; the articulation clear and unfussy.

Although Peter Schubert - who studied under Boulanger - founded VivaVoce almost ten years ago, their discography is not a large one yet. The characterful and precise performances on this CD might change that.

La Rue seems likely to have been born some time between 1452 and 1465, depending on whether documentary evidence for Peter van Straaten can be taken as referring (also) to Pierre de La Rue. What we do know is that he worked for most of his life in the Habsburg-Burgundian chapel in the service of the Burgundian Dukes who lived and travelled throughout what is roughly modern Belgium.

It’s said that the tragic life of Marguerite of Austria - a member of the aristocratic family with whom La Rue seems to have had a special link - inspired her fondness for sad chansons, and that this informed some of La Rue’s work. It seems just as probable that his extensive travel with the court offered him a multiplicity of musical experiences and styles on which to draw for his own plangent way of writing. In either case, it was Pierre de La Rue who was the first composer anywhere to complete a series of polyphonic Magnificat settings. They are somewhat restrained and, although there is joy in them, it is a veiled, mild one.

The Magnificat is a biblical song from St. Luke’s Gospel sung by the Virgin Mary at her first awareness of the importance of the child to which she was shortly to give birth. It was first sung to a plain melody at the end of Vespers, preceded and succeeded by antiphons appropriate to the time of year. Since such a melody was chosen to accord with the antiphons’ mode(s), there are eight possible Magnificat ‘tone’s. We know La Rue set all eight throughout his life. He strove to make them all different in feel and atmosphere - but we no longer have the ‘Tone III’. They are for four voices (Tones II, IV, V, VII and VIII), five (Tone VI) and six (Tone I) and employ such techniques as mensuration canon, different registers to evoke singers’ different ages and parallel motion.

The Salve Regina is one of four Marian antiphons for the end of Compline (the final office of the day) and for special Marian services. A favourite of La Rue’s, he composed six such laudatory settings. We hear three on these two discs; they use contemporary chansons and quote melodies by Dufay and Binchois, which must have been an attempt to arrogate to the Habsburg-Burgundian court some of the prestige of those great and greatly-respected musicians. Because of the intimate relationship between these compositions and a composer like La Rue, Peter Schubert has included half a dozen or so short antiphons to reinforce the notion that even the such profound and elevated music as La Rue’s here had a context.

In the case of both the Magnificats and Salve Reginas alternating verses are sung in chant (odd-numbered verses) and polyphony (even) – except for the second Salve Regina: each work, of course, has the text in common. None of the works is longer than fifteen minutes; this is ample time for La Rue to establish, develop and amplify the themes as needed. It also means that the CDs can be – and have been – easily arranged to offer the maximum variety… the three types of music (antiphon, Magnificat and Salve Regina) alternate and make for a very stimulating listening experience given the concentration of formas.

As noted, La Rue’s music isn’t so rich as that of Josquin. It takes but a few minutes of listening to the music on this welcome pair of CDs, though, to appreciate why La Rue was held in such high esteem in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. His music is focused and bright yet profound without being overly complicated. These are qualities which Schubert and VivaVoce have done well to concentrate on communicating.

The recording is clean, if a little on the dry side; the liner notes ample; the texts (those, of course, of the Magnificat and Salve Regina are essentially repeated) are reproduced in Latin and English.

Mark Sealey, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. Sancta Maria succurre miseris by Pierre de La Rue
Conductor:  Peter Schubert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Viva Voce
Period: Renaissance 
Notes: Church of the Visitation, Montréal, Québec, Canada (08/2005); Church of the Visitation, Montréal, Québec, Canada (06/2006)
Composition written: 15th Century - 16th Century. 
2. Tribus miraculis by Pierre de La Rue
Conductor:  Peter Schubert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Viva Voce
Period: Renaissaince 
3. Magnificat primi toni by Pierre de La Rue
Conductor:  Peter Schubert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Viva Voce
Period: Renaissaince 
4. Magnificat secundi toni by Pierre de La Rue
Conductor:  Peter Schubert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Viva Voce
Period: Renaissaince 
5. Magnificat quarti toni by Pierre de La Rue
Conductor:  Peter Schubert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Viva Voce
Period: Renaissaince 
6. Magnificat quinti toni by Pierre de La Rue
Conductor:  Peter Schubert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Viva Voce
Period: Renaissaince 
7. Magnificat sexti toni by Pierre de La Rue
Conductor:  Peter Schubert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Viva Voce
Period: Renaissaince 
8. Magnificat septimi toni by Pierre de La Rue
Conductor:  Peter Schubert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Viva Voce
Period: Renaissaince 
9. Magnificat octavi toni by Pierre de La Rue
Conductor:  Peter Schubert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Viva Voce
Period: Renaissaince 
10. Salve regina no 2 by Pierre de La Rue
Conductor:  Peter Schubert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Viva Voce
Period: Renaissaince 
11. Salve regina no 4 by Pierre de La Rue
Conductor:  Peter Schubert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Viva Voce
Period: Renaissaince 
12. Salve regina no 5 by Pierre de La Rue
Conductor:  Peter Schubert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Viva Voce
Period: Renaissaince 

Sound Samples

Antiphon, "Sancta Maria succurre miseris"
Magnificat Tone IV: Magnificat anima mea Dominum - Et exultavit spiritus meus
Magnificat Tone IV: Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae - Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est
Magnificat Tone IV: Et misericordia eius a progenie - Fecit potentiam in brachio suo
Magnificat Tone IV: Deposuit potentes - Esurientes implevit bonis
Magnificat Tone IV: Suscepit Israel puerum suum - Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros
Magnificat Tone IV: Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto - Sicut erat in principio. Antiphon, "Sancta Maria succurre miseris"
Antiphon, "Tribus miraculis"
Magnificat Tone I: Magnificat anima mea Dominum - Et exultavit spiritus meus
Magnificat Tone I: Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae - Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est
Magnificat Tone I: Et misericordia eius a progenie - Fecit potentiam in brachio suo
Magnificat Tone I: Deposuit potentes - Esurientes implevit bonis
Magnificat Tone I: Suscepit Israel puerum suum - Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros
Magnificat Tone I: Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto - Sicut erat in principio. Antiphon, "Tribus miraculis""
Salve regina V: Salve regina, mater misericordiae
Salve regina V: Ad te clamamus, exsules filii Hevae
Salve regina V: Eia, ergo, advocata nostra
Salve regina V: O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria
Magnificat Tone VII: Magnificat anima mea Dominum - Et exultavit spiritus meus
Magnificat Tone VII: Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae - Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est
Magnificat Tone VII: Et misericordia eius a progenie - Fecit potentiam in brachio suo
Magnificat Tone VII: Deposuit potentes - Esurientes implevit bonis
Magnificat Tone VII: Suscepit Israel puerum suum - Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros
Magnificat Tone VII: Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto - Sicut erat in principio. Antiphon, "Dedit mihi Dominus pennas"
Antiphon, "Virgo gloriosa"
Magnificat Tone II: Magnificat anima mea Dominum - Et exultavit spiritus meus
Magnificat Tone II: Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae - Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est
Magnificat Tone II: Et misericordia eius a progenie - Fecit potentiam in brachio suo
Magnificat Tone II: Deposuit potentes - Esurientes implevit bonis
Magnificat Tone II: Suscepit Israel puerum suum - Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros
Magnificat Tone II: Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto - Sicut erat in principio. Antiphon, "Virgo gloriosa"
Salve regina II: Salve regina, mater misericordiae
Salve regina II: Eia, ergo, advocata nostra
Salve regina II: Et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui
Antiphon, "O quam gloriosum est regnum"
Magnificat Tone VI: Magnificat anima mea Dominum - Et exultavit spiritus meus
Magnificat Tone VI: Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae - Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est
Magnificat Tone VI: Et misericordia eius a progenie - Fecit potentiam in brachio suo
Magnificat Tone VI: Deposuit potentes - Esurientes implevit bonis
Magnificat Tone VI: Suscepit Israel puerum suum - Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros
Magnificat Tone VI: Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto - Sicut erat in principio. Antiphon, "O quam gloriosum est regnum"
Antiphon, "Dum medium silentium"
Magnificat Tone VIII: Magnificat anima mea Dominum - Et exultavit spiritus meus
Magnificat Tone VIII: Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae - Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est
Magnificat Tone VIII: Et misericordia eius a progenie - Fecit potentiam in brachio suo
Magnificat Tone VIII: Deposuit potentes - Esurientes implevit bonis
Magnificat Tone VIII: Suscepit Israel puerum suum - Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros
Magnificat Tone VIII: Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto - Sicut erat in principio. Antiphon, "Dum medium silentium"
Salve regina IV: Salve regina, mater misericordiae
Salve regina IV: Ad te clamamus, exsules filii Hevae
Salve regina IV: Eia, ergo, advocata nostra
Salve regina IV: O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria
Magnificat Tone V: Magnificat anima mea Dominum - Et exultavit spiritus meus
Magnificat Tone V: Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae - Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est
Magnificat Tone V: Et misericordia eius a progenie - Fecit potentiam in brachio suo
Magnificat Tone V: Deposuit potentes - Esurientes implevit bonis
Magnificat Tone V: Suscepit Israel puerum suum - Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros
Magnificat Tone V: Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto - Sicut erat in principio. Antiphon, "Bene omnia fecit"

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