Notes and Editorial Reviews
Missa Mente tota. Laus tibi sacra rubens. Creator omnium Deus. O iubar. Verbum bonum et suave. Quid non ebrietas
HYPERION CDA 67749 (70:47
Text and Translation)
JOSQUIN DES PREZ
Concordes adhibite animos
discs concentrating on the court of Maximilian II, this male vocal ensemble has moved south to give us a good look at Adrian Willaert (c.1490–1562). It is very much focused on Willaert, for the Josquin motet, one part of the large
cycle, underpins Willaert’s parody Mass and the Rore motet was written as a memorial of his death by his successor at St. Mark’s in Venice, where he was maestro for 35 years. The other works on the program remind us of some of the more interesting anecdotes in the composer’s life.
Verbum bonum et suave
was the motet sung at the Sistine Chapel under Josquin’s name until Willaert identified it as his own work. The singers promptly removed it from their repertoire, according to his pupil Gioseffo Zarlino.
Quid non ebrietas
is one of the more curious pieces in Willaert’s output. The Sistine singers were incapable of performing it, for it seemed to end on a D–E dissonance, though in reality Willaert had written the tenor through a complete circle of fifths, making the notated E sound as E double flat, or D. This was an early step in the direction of equal temperament.
Laus tibi sacra rubens
was written in 1542, on his first return to Flanders, in honor of the relic of the Holy Blood that is still venerated in a chapel in Bruges (I visited the site a couple of years ago).
is a hymn in honor of the Holy Shroud, which was being exhibited in Turin and elsewhere after being damaged in a fire and then repaired; unlike the other hymns in the published collection (1542), it is polyphonic throughout, not sung alternatim with chant verses.
The Mass was undoubtedly written in Rome, for the earliest of four manuscript sources is Capella Sistina 16, which dates around 1512–17, just the time when Willaert spent a year there. That makes it one of his earliest works. Each section of the Mass contains a double canon, an indication of Willaert’s early maturity. This is the most interesting Willaert program since Jeremy Summerly’s (
22:6) and even more varied. It would make an ideal introduction to the composer.
FANFARE: J. F. Weber
Works on This Recording
Verbum bonum et suave by Adrian Willaert
Written: by 1542; Italy
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