Virtual Maestro di Cappella
thereafter, Gibbons found a post in the household of a new Prince of Wales (later Charles I) in 1616. It resulted in an opus or two of innovative string chamber music. His ‘In Nomines’, though, reflect an older world. Composition developed around its cantus firmus, unchanged from a Mass movement of the 1540s by John Taverner, in creative emulation. That mid-Tudor fashion underwent decline, then surprising revivals: the Jacobean one instigated, maybe, by the court violist Alfonso Ferrabosco Junior, English-born son of the only Italian ever to pen In Nomines while visiting England. His set of three refers to his own father, in chief. Gibbons may parallel those, and rings similar changes, but also strikes a balance with tradition. The last, also touched by virtuosic keyboard traits, may borrow a motif or two from Ferrabosco’s third exemplar, and its less usual scoring for two basses. Gibbons liked to observe an earlier Elizabethan finesse with the habitually slow-moving plainsong part: ‘breaking’ it, freeing it at node-points to quote main motifs bandied by other voices, though in a token form easily missed from outside the texture.
from notes by David Pinto © 2017