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Tristitia et anxietas
4vv; Liber primus ecclesiasticarum cantionum quatuor vocum (Antwerp: Susato, 1553). RISM 1553/8
author of text
various Biblical and non-Biblical sources; after Lamentations, Psalm 112 (113): 2

'Clemens non Papa: Requiem & Penitential Motets' (CDA67848)
Clemens non Papa: Requiem & Penitential Motets
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67848 

Tristitia et anxietas
Tristitia et anxietas has long been known to students of Renaissance polyphony for its apparent influence on the setting of the same text by William Byrd, first noted by Joseph Kerman; however, like the majority of motets it does not appear to have been recorded before now. Its anguished tone is set by the opening imitative point which, in the manner of Clemens’s distinguished older colleague Nicolas Gombert, winds slowly and tortuously around a single pitch, with an opening movement of a semitone. Other obvious emotional tugs are provided at ‘occupaverunt’ (‘have invaded’) with another semitone; ‘Moestum factum est cor meum’ (‘My heart has been made dejected in grief’), which is homophonic and uses the fauxbourdon texture that frequently signals heightened emotion in this repertory; and most obviously at ‘Vae mihi’ (‘Woe unto me’) with block chords high in the choir’s range, and chromaticism that is not written in, but forced by the rules of musica ficta, producing a wrenching harmonic shift that underlines the anguish conveyed by the text. The second section of the piece changes its outlook entirely, trusting in God’s care for those who hope in him (‘sperantes in te’—again highlighted with homophony). Finally the text, emulating Job in its willingness to bless God despite extreme misery, states ‘may your name be blessed now and always’: the final phrase ‘et in saecula saeculorum. Amen’ is subjected to sequential treatment, with a waterfall-like figure that Clemens evidently felt bore repetition in toto.

from notes by Stephen Rice © 2010

Track-specific metadata
Details for CDA67848 track 8
Recording date
18 March 2010
Recording venue
Merton College Chapel, Oxford, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Antony Pitts
Recording engineer
Justin Lowe
Hyperion usage
  1. Clemens non Papa: Requiem & Penitential Motets (CDA67848)
    Disc 1 Track 8
    Release date: January 2011
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