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Hyperion Records

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The Visitation (1491) by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494)
Louvre, Paris / Giraudon / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67891
Recording details: October 2010
Westminster Cathedral, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Adrian Peacock
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: November 2011
Total duration: 30 minutes 20 seconds

'We hear the boys' voices—and what a wonderfully incisive and vivid sound they make, cutting through the swathes of echo like a hot knife through butter—floating angelically above a heaving wash of lay clerk harmony … polyphony designed to inspire feelings of sanctity and spirituality, and this recording captures that element to perfection. Martin Baker has a lovely way with the musical phrases, letting them emerge from the dark recesses of the cathedral, allowing them generous space in which to soar and float before gently subsiding back to the vast darkness from which they emerged. It creates a sensation of great timelessness … illuminating and deeply rewarding' (International Record Review)

Missa De Beata Maria Virgine
5vv SATTB (7vv SSAATTB in final Agnus Dei); first published in Venice in 1576 by Angela Gardano; based on the Gregorian Mass IX 'Cum iubilo' and Credo I
author of text
Ordinary of the Mass

Kyrie  [3'03] GreekEnglish
Gloria  [6'56] LatinEnglish
Credo  [10'02] LatinEnglish

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Missa De Beata Maria Virgine was published first by Angelo Gardano in Venice in 1576 and later by his brother, Alessandro Gardane, in Rome in 1583. It is a paraphrase Mass based on the twelfth-century Gregorian plainsong Mass IX, ‘Cum iubilo’ (designated as being for Feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary), and Credo I. Much use of melodic material from the plainsong is made in Victoria’s setting but the individual movements of the plainsong Mass are not all in the same mode and clef combination, which means that, unless appropriate transpositions are made, it would not be possible to perform all the music with the same combination of voices. As Dr John Milsom has shown (in a most illuminating paper, ‘Clef and transposition: the evidence of sixteenth-century non-cyclic Masses’, which he read to the Early Music Centre Conference on ‘Pitch in Renaissance and Baroque music’ in 1981), in certain types of Masses which have been termed ‘non-cyclic’—i.e. Masses which are liturgically continuous but structurally diverse, mainly the Missa pro defunctis and the Missa De Beata Maria Virgine—the composer bases the various movements of the Mass on different plainsong melodies, often in different modes, which in turn leads to changes of tonal centre, written pitch and clefs between the movements. In such Masses the written pitch of the music is largely influenced by the plainsong cantus firmus, the tessitura and choice of clef for each movement being effectively determined by the mode, ambitus and final of its plainsong basis. In general, composers evidently preferred to leave the cantus firmus untransposed, writing their polyphony around it at whatever pitch that required and notating this in the most convenient clef.

Victoria follows this pattern and in the original manuscripts of the Mass the Kyrie is in mode 1, transposed up a fourth so that its final is on G; the Gloria is in mode 7, also with its final on G; the Credo is in mode 4 with a final on E; and the Sanctus, Benedictus and both settings of the Agnus Dei are in mode 5 with a final on F. Each movement of the Mass is written in chiavette—i.e. in a combination of high clefs—except the Credo, which is in a low clef combination.

from notes by Jon Dixon © 2011

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