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Hyperion Records

CDGIM028 - Lôbo: Requiem
The Funeral of St Bonaventure by Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664)
Musée du Louvre, Paris
CDGIM028

Salle Church, Norfolk, United Kingdom
Produced by Steve C Smith & Peter Phillips
Engineered by Sean Lewis & Philip Hobbs
Release date: November 1992
Total duration: 65 minutes 47 seconds

Requiem

The first recording of Duarte Lôbo's six-voice Requiem and the only album devoted entirely to his works.

The Requiem Mass is also available on The Tallis Scholars' specially priced double album entitled Requiem.


Other recommended albums
'Requiem' (CDGIM205)
Requiem
Buy by post £11.75 CDGIM205  2CDs for the price of 1  

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The history of Renaissance settings of the Requiem Mass saw a late flowering in Portugal. It is a relatively sparse history compared with that of the countless hundreds of Mass Ordinary settings, so it is perhaps the more surprising that well into the seventeenth century, when composers in other Catholic countries were turning to Baroque styles and more joyful texts, Portugal should suddenly have produced a crop of masterpieces in the idiom. To the now well-established Requiem by Manuel Cardoso may be added settings by Filipe de Magalhães, Gonçalo Mendes Saldanha (incomplete), and two by Duarte Lôbo, one for eight voices and one for six. The latter is the one recorded here.

All these Portuguese settings are stylistically on the cusp between a genuinely polyphonic Renaissance idiom and something based more in harmonic movement, reflecting Baroque thought. The role played by the six-voice Requiem of the Spanish composer, Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548–1611), in the creation of this idiom is quite fascinating, even if it is largely conjectural. It seems that this great work became a model for all the later Portuguese versions, so powerful that every significant composer in the country felt drawn into reinterpreting its possibilities for himself. Victoria’s setting contained, unusually for him, little imitative counterpoint, and he used the chant as a peg on which to hang a series of simple and sonorous chords. This was the starting-point for the Portuguese, placing the long-note chant in one of the soprano parts, as Victoria had done, and then building on his harmonic language. The aesthetic result is that the music conveys the same certainty of purpose and the same spirit of repose, never explicitly sad but encouraging the listener to contemplate something infinite, beyond human reasoning.

Duarte Lôbo (whose name was Latinized as Eduardus Lupus and should not be confused with that of his Spanish near-contemporary Alonso Lobo) was born about 1565 and died in 1646 in Lisbon. Like Magalhães (c.1571–1652), Cardoso (c.1566–1650) and a number of other leading Portuguese musicians of the period, Lôbo studied at Évora Cathedral under Manuel Mendes (c.1547–1605). It is possible that it was Mendes who introduced them all to the Victoria Requiem. Lôbo later became mestre de capela at Évora before moving to Lisbon where he served in the same capacity at the Hospital Real and, by 1594, at the cathedral. He kept the latter post for over forty years, much honoured by the Royal Court, and became the most esteemed and widely performed Portuguese composer of his time.

A full picture of Lôbo as a composer is denied us because much of his music was destroyed in the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. From what survives he seems to have been relatively Renaissance-based, even by Portuguese standards, preferring single-choir polyphony to double-choir antiphony. Even his eight-voice Requiem (published in 1621), though originally printed for two separate choirs, in fact has few passages where all eight voices are not employed together. This penchant for sonority is equally on display in the probably later six-voice Requiem (published in 1639) recorded here. Instead of Victoria’s scoring of SSATTB, Lôbo preferred the slightly thicker sound of SAATTB, in which he gave the chant, when he used it, to the single soprano part in long notes. The ‘In memoria’, the truncated Sequentia, the ‘Hostias’ and the final Responsorium are scored for four voices or fewer.

Whether writing for six voices or four, Lôbo was capable of some highly original turns of phrase, at a date when many modern commentators might be forgiven for assuming that everything possible in the Renaissance idiom had been long since tried and exhausted. In the three polyphonic statements of the Agnus Dei, for example, in which the soprano part effectively sings the same notes three times, Lôbo’s masterly control not only produces a succession of beautiful chords (especially in the second statement), but at the same time ensures that the music moves inevitably forward to the final ‘sempiternam’. The Graduale is also remarkable for its expressive dissonances, always carefully prepared as was appropriate for a Requiem, yet never predictable.

Lôbo’s six-voice Missa Vox clamantis (SSAATB), although published in the same 1639 Book of Masses, is much more contrapuntal than the Requiem. The model for this extrovert setting, presumably a motet of the same scoring, has not yet been found and may have perished in the 1755 earthquake. It seems not to have been by the Spanish composer Francisco Guerrero (1528–1599), whose works provided Lôbo with several parody models for other Mass-settings; it may have been by Lôbo himself. It probably began with the impressive octave leaps which start several of this setting’s movements and subsections, most strikingly the opening Kyrie (to which the first words of the motet ‘Vox clamantis in deserto’ would fit rather well). The style of the writing in general shows a fairly typical late-Renaissance mixture of impressive contrapuntal devices (inversion of this octave leap, for instance, in the bass part towards the end of the first Kyrie; combining two themes in a double point at the beginning of the second Kyrie) with phrases of declamation which are pure Italian Baroque (‘suscipe deprecationem nostram’ in the Gloria, for example; or the little Monteverdian decoration at ‘Agnus Dei’ between the two soprano soloists in the ‘Domine Deus’ section of the Gloria).

The second Agnus Dei at the end of the Mass returns to very old practice by introducing an only partially notated canon in the second soprano part (the sixth voice), which bears the direction ‘sexta vox per tempora clamat’. This is a play on the word ‘tempora’, implying that the notes should be sung at the right time and in the same note-lengths. The discovery of precisely which notes were meant by this oblique reference – in fact the opening seven of the first soprano part in the first Kyrie – was made by João Pedro d’Alvarenga, after some experiment.

Peter Phillips © 1992

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