Schoendorff’s Magnificat sexti toni
for five voices comes from a collection of nine settings of that text published in Venice in 1593 by one of his colleagues, the Carmelite friar, tenor and court chaplain Vincenzo Nerito, who dedicated it to Chimarrhaeus. This publication was so successful that it was reissued seven years later by a Nuremberg printer. The Magnificat is sung at Sunday and Festal Vespers. As one of the innovations of the Counter-Reformation, a new Marian feast had been extended to the Church Universal in 1585: the Presentation of the Virgin (21 November). Complying with a wish already expressed a generation previously by the Council of Trent, the setting of the canticle from Luke’s Gospel alternates plainchant with polyphony while respecting the clarity of the Latin prosody, thus guaranteeing the intelligibility of the text (‘et divites dimisit’). However, as the eminent instrumentalist he was, the composer also displays his taste for ornamentation and coloratura (‘ad patres nostros’, ‘in brachio suo’).
from notes by Bénédicte Even-Lassmann © 2011
English: Charles Johnston