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Gloria de beata virgine

composer
4vv; NJE 13.7
author of text
Ordinary of the Mass, troped

 
The final two pieces on this recording are free-standing Mass movements, both published by Ottaviano Petrucci in 1505 in the intriguing print Fragmenta missarum (RISM 1505 1). Whereas polyphonic settings of individual movements (and pairs) had been more common than complete cycles in the earlier part of the fifteenth century, the cyclic Mass had stabilized in content, becoming the dominant genre by the beginning of Josquin’s career; his compositional contribution to it—building on the work of Du Fay, Ockeghem and others—constitutes a major part of his legacy. The few individual movements that survive with attributions to Josquin have been comparatively neglected, though they shed an interesting light on (presumably) his earlier years.

The Gloria de beata virgine (13.7) inhabits a very different sound-world from most of the motets discussed above. Its textures are fifteenth-century, with the two middle voices occupying exactly the same range (as a rule, altus parts gradually drifted higher during the sixteenth century, to about a tone above the tenor by the end of Josquin’s life, and a third by the time of Lassus and Palestrina); and the text is troped, carrying additional Marian material that ceased to be permitted in liturgical books produced after the Council of Trent. The first half is in perfect tempus, and the tonality feels quite unstable, with the predominantly G Mixolydian tonal space disrupted by frequent B and E flats in the first minute. A striking feature of the prima pars is the first Marian trope section, ‘Spiritus et alme orphanorum Paraclite’ (‘Holy Spirit, nourishing orphans’), which is a duet between soprano and alto (from 2'40), in a proportional notation indicating double speed. Although the lower voices do not participate in this short but lively subsection, they then re-enter (‘Domine Deus’ at 2'56) with the tenor in major prolation (equivalent to 6/8 time), producing a series of hemiolas against the bass—though both voices are so extensively syncopated up to 3'15 that the underlying tactus is heavily obscured. In the secunda pars the sections of troped text are again demarcated from the ‘official’ Gloria text, though here by means of chordal statements with fermatas. These contrast with increasingly boisterous sections of the main text, with extensive use of trio and duet textures, and triple time at ‘Cum Sancto Spiritu’ (3'04), before the final ‘Amen’ (3'29) reverts to duple time but uses a syncopated rising sequence to build energy into the final cadence.

from notes by Stephen Rice © 2021

Recordings

Josquin: Motets & Mass movements
Studio Master: CDA68321Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

Details

Part 1: Gloria in excelsis Deo
Track 17 on CDA68321 [4'04]
Part 2: Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe
Track 18 on CDA68321 [4'08]

Track-specific metadata

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