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Ecce vicit Leo

Cantiones Sacrae, 1613
author of text
Revelation 5: 5, 12

Another composer working in the early seventeenth century was Peter Philips (c1561–1628). Philips was English, although he fled abroad in 1582. He was a chorister at St Paul’s in 1574 and is mentioned in the will of Sebastian Westcote, who was Almoner there. Westcote died in 1582, had been appointed to this post in the reign of Queen Mary and enjoyed ‘a measure of royal protection’. His will left £5 to each of four boys (including Philips); perhaps he had been protected by Westcote who was an ardent Roman Catholic. Philips was also a Catholic, and his certificate of residence in Brussels states that he fled ‘pour la foy Catholique’.

Philips went to Rome and studied with Anerio. In 1585 Lord Thomas Paget stayed at the English College in Rome where Philips was organist, leaving with Paget on 19 March of that year, now in his employ. With Paget, Philips toured Europe, settling in Brussels in 1589, later moving to Antwerp after his lord’s death. Roger Walton, discovering the composer to be in Amsterdam in 1593, announced to the Dutch authorities that Philips had been involved in a plot to murder Queen Elizabeth. Philips was arrested, imprisoned and subsequently acquitted. In 1597 he was employed in the household of Archduke Albert (who married Isabella of Spain) and went on to spend the rest of his life working in the Spanish Netherlands. Until recently it had been assumed that Philips had been ordained priest, but this seems now to be untrue. He did, however, devote his life after 1603 almost exclusively to sacred music. Certainly, apart from William Byrd, Philips was the most published composer of the age, and he too became well known and highly regarded.

The anthem Ecce vicit Leo comes from the collection Cantiones Sacrae of 1613, a collection of thirty double-choir motets. It is said of Philips that he deliberately cultivated the stile antico of his forebears. If this is true, then his assimilation of the style must have been thorough as his mastery of the double-choir idiom is so complete. Some of the effects are quite breathtaking, for example at the words ‘accipere virtutem’ where the vigorous exchange of material reaches a climax.

from notes by William McVicker © 1997

Le style musical de Philips reflète les circonstances de sa vie. Bien que se sentant lui-même Anglais, il adopta dans ses œuvres imprimées le langage musical de ses contemporains flamands et italiens, et le fit sien. Il fut le premier compositeur anglais à publier de la musique avec une partie de basse continue. Ecce vicit Leo est une pièce impétueuse et pleine d’assurance dans le style pour double chœur si populaire parmi les compositeurs romains, empreint d’une grande souplesse d’instrumentation et d’une abondance d’ornements ostentatoires au soprano. L’humeur triomphale, si éloignée des lamentations pénitentielles de tant de compositeurs anglais, se révèle en parfaite harmonie avec la veine oratoire, l’art et la politique de la Contre-Réforme. Il n’est guère difficile d’imaginer ce motet chanté devant l’un des grands retables baroques de Rubens.

extrait des notes rédigées par Kerry McCarthy © 2014
Français: Michel Roubinet

Philips’ Musikstil spiegelt die Begebenheiten seines Lebens wider. Obwohl er sich in seinen gedruckten Werken als Engländer auswies, machte er sich die musikalische Sprache seiner flämischen und italienischen Zeitgenossen zu eigen. Er war der erste englische Komponist, der Musik mit einem Continuopart veröffentlichte. Ecce vicit Leo hebt sich auf Anhieb von den übrigen hier aufgeführten Werken ab: Es ist ein forsches, selbstsicheres Stück in dem doppelchörigen Stil, der unter römischen Komponisten so beliebt war, mit großer Flexibilität in der Besetzung und schriller Ornamentik in der Sopranstimme. Die triumphierende Stimmung, so fern den bußfertigen Klagen vieler englischer Musiker, ist eine perfekte Ergänzung zur Rhetorik, Kunst und Politik der Gegen reformation. Man kann sich unschwer vorstellen, wie diese Motette vor einem der großen barocken Altarbilder von Rubens gesungen wird.

aus dem Begleittext von Kerry McCarthy © 2014
Deutsch: Gudrun Meier


Passiontide at St Paul's
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Philips: Motets
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