Jacob Handl (1550–1591) was a Slovenian composer who resided in Austria and Bohemia. He stayed at the Benedictine abbey at Melk and went on to Vienna in or around 1568. By 1574 he is known to have become a singer at Maximilian II’s imperial chapel. From 1575 he spent the next four or five years travelling and learning and was then engaged as a musician by the Bishop of Olomouc before moving to become Kantor of Saint Jan na Brzehu in Prague. Handl was clearly a master contrapuntalist, although his music suffered some criticism in its day on account of its complexity.
The five-part anthem Omnes de Saba venient is a vibrant Epiphany motet, with playful musical gestures and figures appearing at various points in the text. At the words ‘de Saba venient’ rhythmic movement is introduced followed by a rising quaver figure which moves up through the texture at the words ‘et laudem Domino’. The ‘Alleluia’ introduces a new rising and falling figure.
from notes by William McVicker © 2002