Notes and Editorial Reviews
There is no end to unfamiliar composers entering the record catalog. Francesco Cellavenia (died 1567) is not to be found in any current national catalog, or any older edition that I have checked. Iain Fenlon wrote a brief entry for The New Grove (1980), but it was not updated in 2001 to cite his documented date of death. His name turns up at Casale Monferrato (Piedmont) in 1546 in a manuscript of music that he collected and augmented with his own works. Sant’Evasio had been established as the city’s cathedral in 1474 after the Paleologi had made the city their short-lived principality. The family was a younger branch of the last dynasty of Byzantine emperors, but the state was absorbed by Mantua in 1536 after a dynastic marriage. In 1978,
David Crawford edited Cellavenia’s music for the Corpus Mensurabilis Musicae series.
The major work here is a parody Mass on a motet by Andreas de Silva, whose motets have shown up here several times as fillers, as occurs here as well. It is typically restrained polyphony familiar from its era. It was first published in 1532 and was reprinted several times, even in one case attributed to Josquin des Prez (but Josquin scholars are having a field day with late misattributions much more problematic than this one). The motets are mostly on familiar texts, but the lack of printed texts is most regrettable in the case of Praesta quaesumus omnipotens, described as a prayer to St. Evasius. Indeed, the words are a familiar formula for the beginning of a collect, and the notes state that the prayer is combined with the hymn to the saint, Gaude mater ecclesia, also heard again separately. But there is no evident purpose in setting collects to five-voice polyphony, for they are invariably chanted by the celebrant. The concluding motet, however, is noteworthy for combining simplicity and elegance.
The performances by the five voices of this ensemble are well balanced and tuneful. A voracious consumer of Renaissance polyphony will want to add another unfamiliar name to his library, but he will also listen to the disc again occasionally for a reminder that beautiful music can suffer the same fate as the flower that will waste its fragrance on the desert air.
J. F. Weber, FANFARE
Works on This Recording
Missa Laetare Nova Sioni by Francesco Cellavenia
Written: by 1532; Italy
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