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Quis numerare queat

composer
5vv; ? 1484
author of text
text possibly marking the Treaty of Bagnolo of 1484; with Da pacem cantus firmus

 
Loyset Compère was a Franco-Flemish composer and regular correspondent with Josquin. It is thought that he even swapped benefices with Josquin to enable him to spend his year in Ferrara. Compère’s Quis numerare queat (which draws upon a text also set by Jacob Obrecht) was possibly written to celebrate the Treaty of Bagnolo, signed in 1484, which brought peace between Ferrara and a coalition of the Venetian and Papal states. The chant Da pacem, Domine appears as a canon, providing a double cantus firmus in all three sections in different parts—a technique employed by other composers with Ferrarese connections, extending all the way to Gesualdo over a century later.

The main Latin text is a quasi-political screed in support of peace in Italy; it is set very syllabically, giving the work momentum and a sense of inevitability. Quis numerare queat closes with an extended sequence of falling thirds in the highest part, a technique thought to be archetypal of Josquin’s writing, as demonstrated in the list of composers in Nymphes des bois. As Quis numerare queat is thought to predate Nymphes des bois by over a decade, it is possible that Compère’s work provided Josquin with inspiration for his own use of the technique.

from notes by Guy James © 2021

Recordings

Josquin's legacy
CDA68379 Available Friday 29 October 2021

Details

Part 1: Quis numerare queat
Track 7 on CDA68379 [1'32] Available Friday 29 October 2021
Part 2: Audivit ipse
Track 8 on CDA68379 [2'15] Available Friday 29 October 2021
Part 3: Fundant preces
Track 9 on CDA68379 [2'16] Available Friday 29 October 2021

Track-specific metadata

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