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Hyperion Records

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Virgin Annunciate (1450/5) by Fra Angelico (Giudo di Pietro) (c1387-1455)
Detroit Institute of Arts, USA, Bequest of Eleanor Clay Ford / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67694
Recording details: September 2007
Merton College Chapel, Oxford, United Kingdom
Produced by Jeremy Summerly
Engineered by Justin Lowe
Release date: September 2008
Total duration: 7 minutes 57 seconds

'This is the Brabant Ensemble at their most vigorous and confident … in a fast-growing discography, this is a valuable addition' (Gramophone)

'Rice and his ensemble reveal a composer of warmth and passion who could also write resplendently joyful music when required … the whole recital is marked by an extraordinary unanimity of ensemble, security of intonation and intelligence that surpass all rivals in the repertory. In short, this is a valuable and exquisitely sung addition to the Morales discography' (International Record Review)

'Music of astonishing beauty and rapt polyphonic intensity, which the voices of the Brabant Ensemble unfold with perfect poise' (The Guardian)

'The Magnficat setting glows with power, and the three Lamentations have a grave beauty impossible to resist with the radiant tone and golden blend of Stephen Rice's Brabant Ensemble. The wise selection focuses on material underexposed elsewhere' (The Times)

'The young Oxford choir turns its immaculate ensemble, lucid diction and faultless tuning to the Spanish composer Morales. His Lamentations flow with exquisite sadness … the lines blend like threads in a tapestry … the selection of motets is rich with dynamic contrast, expressivity and downright beautiful singing' (Classic FM Magazine)

'This first-rate recording makes an important contribution not only for its exceptional performances, but in its thoughtful programming … essential' (ClassicsToday.com)

Coph. Vocavi
composer
4vv
author of text
Lamentations 1: 19-21; Third Lesson on Good Friday

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Polyphonic settings of the Lamentations of Jeremiah enjoyed considerable popularity in the sixteenth century, with a publication by the printer Ottaviano Petrucci (Venice, 1506) gathering together most of the earliest known examples. By the 1530s, Morales was following in a well-established tradition in composing Lamentations: along with his Sistine Chapel colleague Costanzo Festa he produced large numbers of settings, though these were not published until 1564, eleven years after Morales’s death. It is not known whether these settings entered the Sistine Chapel repertory, since an earlier version, composed by Carpentras (Elzéar Genet) appears to have been sung until the 1580s, being eventually replaced by that composed by Palestrina. The significance of the texts lies in their liturgical use as lessons in Matins of the Triduum Sacrum (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday): whereas lessons would normally be intoned on a simple recitation formula, these are supplied with more elaborate plainsong. These ‘lamentation tones’ are often reflected in the polyphonic settings, including those of Morales.

Another unusual feature of Lamentation settings is the retention of the Hebrew initial letters to each verse. The Lamentations formed an acrostic poem, and the practice of Renaissance composers was to introduce each section with an extended, melismatic setting of the Hebrew letter. Together with the refrain ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, turn to the Lord your God’ which ends each setting, these elements produce a highly meditative musical atmosphere, as the harrowing texts of Jeremiah’s poem are transformed into polyphony that alternates simple homophony with great elaboration. The three sections presented here are the third lesson on Good Friday (Coph. Vocavi), and the first and second on Holy Saturday (Zai. Candidiores and Nun. Vigilavit respectively); these liturgical designations ceased to apply after the promulgation of the Tridentine service books later in the century, however.

from notes by Stephen Rice © 2008

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