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The motet sets Psalm 133, ‘Behold, how good and joyful a thing it is: brethren, to dwell together in unity!’ In it the psalmist constructs an extended simile between the life of a happy community and refreshing liquids: first the precious ointment running down Aaron’s beard, and subsequently dew falling upon the hill of Sion. The mention of Sion allows a return to the original theme of God’s benediction on those who lead a peaceful life. The imagery in this short but vivid text offers plenty of scope for the composer to create musical parallels, of which Clemens takes advantage in both motet and Mass. The ointment running down Aaron’s beard is illustrated with a sequential motif falling in thirds and employing cross-rhythms, which frequently recurs in the Mass, usually towards the end of sections such as the second Kyrie. A different falling motif is chosen for the dew of Hermon, this time descending by step. It has been observed also that the unison canon between the two tenor parts in the Sanctus and Agnus Dei reflects the opening of the text (Alejandro Planchart & Willem Elders, ‘Clemens non Papa, Jacobus’, in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Second Edition ed. S. Sadie, 29 vols. (London: Macmillan, 2001), vi, 29.).
from notes by Stephen Rice © 2004
|Clemens: Missa Ecce quam bonum & other sacred music|
This debut recording from The Brabant Ensemble features Clemens non Papa's Mass 'Ecce quam bonum' and a generous selection of five-voice motets.» More