Hyperion Records

Miserere mei, Deus
composer
5vv
author of text
Psalm 56 (57): 2-3

Recordings
'Monte: Missa Ultimi miei sospiri & other sacred music' (CDA67658)
Monte: Missa Ultimi miei sospiri & other sacred music
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Miserere mei, Deus
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Unusually short in terms of notated length, Miserere mei, Deus is note for note the very dissonant. That this should be so is not altogether surprising when one considers the opportunities for expressive dissonance offered—to composers of the Renaissance and many other periods—by penitential texts. Peculiar to Monte’s setting is the speed with which he creates the mood—the beginning of the second bar has a harsh suspension between the two highest voices, but even before that the syncopation and descending scale of the top voice indicate penitence—but also his ability to change the mood gradually yet unmistakeably. A case in point is the phrase ‘et in umbra alarum tuarum sperabo’ (‘and under the shadow of your wings I shall hope’), where the prevailing sonorities of D minor, A minor and G minor from the first section eventually yield to F major, prepared by a long pedal on C. (This is not to say that Monte or his contemporaries thought in terms of modulation as did later composers; the effect of opening out into a new territory is clearly present, however, underlined by other devices such as increasing rhythmic vitality.)

from notes by Stephen Rice © 2008

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