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Joan Baptista Comes: Lamentationes Jeremiae Prophetae

Comes / Victoria Musicae / Gil-tarrega
Release Date: 07/12/2011 
Label:  La Ma De Guido   Catalog #: 2099   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Joan Baptista Comes
Performer:  Alicia Alcayna
Conductor:  Josep R. Gil-Tarrega
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Victoria Musicae
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 51 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



COMES Lamentationes Jeremiae Prophetae Josep R. Gil-Tàrrega, dir; Victoria Musicae LA MÀ DE GUIDO LMG 2099 (50:40 Text and Translation)


This is the second disc in a series, following Josep Gil-Tàrrega’s first program ( Fanfare 34:3) of music by Joan Baptista Comes (c.1582–1643). Originally a choir boy at the Valencia cathedral, Comes spent the most productive 30 years of his life at the Patriarcha (a Read more collegiate church) and the cathedral in Valencia, the royal chapel in Madrid, and then back to the two previous positions in his native city, chapel master each time except at the royal chapel, where he was assistant to Mateo Romero. The ensemble from Valencia is promoting its native son without an anniversary to observe, but this disc needs no excuse to prove its value. The usual program of lamentations would present polyphonic settings of the nine passages from the Old Testament book that were used, three per day, during the first nocturn of Matins during the last three days of Holy Week (an observance called Tenebrae because it culminated in a moment of total darkness just before the end). Sometimes we hear all nine, sometimes just one set of three. It was different in the Valencia cathedral in the 17th century. A document dated 1699 describes the custom of singing the first lamentation “with much music” (clearly, an elaborate setting for chorus and instruments). The next two lamentations were sung solo with a few instruments. The three settings of the first lamentation for Holy Thursday, Quomodo sedet sola , heard on this disc are preserved in the cathedral archive, one for 11 voices (triple choir, SAT/SSAB/SATB), the other two for five voices. Also heard is the first lamentation for Good Friday set for four voices. The program concludes with a four-voice setting of Christus factus est , the responsory that concludes Tenebrae each night.


The musical style is not greatly advanced past the Renaissance polyphony of Comes’s youth, but the annotator detects madrigalisms in the text setting and the triple choir is “of genuinely Baroque great dimensions,” in his words. This disc broadens our grasp of the elaborate celebration that marked Holy Week ceremonies in the Catholic countries of Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, as evidenced by the compositions of leading composers in Spain, France, and Italy. The austere chants of the Middle Ages (no instruments allowed, even organ, for three days) had given way to artistic compositions on the highest level. This was a different way of marking the most solemn days of the liturgical year, a reflection of a changed religious culture. Unlike other composers of the period, Comes provides no virtuoso solo writing for singers whose professional work was shut down for the holy days. He concentrates on the most sublime text settings for the choral singers, enhancing the liturgy rather than overpowering it. The result is quite remarkable. Add this to your collection of Baroque music for Holy Week.


FANFARE: J. F. Weber
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Works on This Recording

1.
Lamentationes Jeremiae Prophetae, for chorus & organ by Joan Baptista Comes
Performer:  Alicia Alcayna (Organ)
Conductor:  Josep R. Gil-Tarrega
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Victoria Musicae
Date of Recording: 04/2010 
Venue:  Capella de la Sapičncia, Universitat de 
Length: 1 Minutes 36 Secs. 
2.
Christus factus est, for 4 voices by Joan Baptista Comes
Performer:  Alicia Alcayna (Organ)
Conductor:  Josep R. Gil-Tarrega
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Victoria Musicae
Date of Recording: 04/2010 
Venue:  Capella de la Sapičncia, Universitat de 
Length: 2 Minutes 45 Secs. 

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