Hyperion Records

Vae tibi Babylon et Syria
4vv; Novum et insigne opus musicum (Nuremberg: Berg & Neuber, 1558). RISM 1558/4
author of text
after 2 Esdras 16: 1-2

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

Vae tibi Babylon et Syria
The short (and very unusual) motet Vae tibi Babylon et Syria takes a text from the Apocryphal book 2 Esdras concerning the impending annihilation of cities hostile to the Jews. The inhabitants of these cities are invited to clothe themselves with sackcloth and hair shirts: this line of text is extended over nearly two minutes of music, in which the somewhat aggressive stance of the piece’s opening is gradually wound down towards the subdued ‘plangite filios vestros’ (‘weep for your children’). The motion of the bass part is slowed to semibreves and breves while the upper three voices gradually sink sequentially over the range of an octave. The evidently deliberate reduction of tension in this passage creates a sense of exhausted despair that can only partly be broken for the final text ‘quoniam appropinquavit perditio vestra’ (‘for your destruction is drawing near’).

from notes by Stephen Rice © 2010

Track-specific metadata
Details for CDA67848 track 9
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 9
    Release date: January 2011
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