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Stella maris illustrans omnia

14th century; Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, MS 334
author of text

This type of composition is generally referred to as a cantilena, a freely composed piece in three parts based on a non-liturgical text, taking its musical style from the manner of chant elaboration favouring parallel first-inversion triads, the so-called descant style. Whilst some cantilenas are notable for their rhythmic flexibility, this early fourteenth-century piece contains an unusually high degree of chromatic writing. The eight strophes of text are set in pairs to four sections of music, the final two of which are the most intense. The third section features parallel root-position triads moving by semitone (C minor to B minor) and a sudden shift of focus towards the triad of A flat before a return to the home triad of F. Although the score leaves little room for ambiguity concerning the notes themselves there are two possible rhythmic interpretations of the music: the only published edition of the work (in Polyphonic Music of the Fourteenth Century, vol. xvii) presents the music in compound time, but Christopher Hodkinson’s edition favours duple time.

from notes by Geoffrey Webber © 2006


All the ends of the earth
SIGCD070Download only
Mary star of the sea
Studio Master: CKD541Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Masters of the Rolls


Track 17 on CDH55364 [2'14]
Track 4 on CKD541 [2'20] Download only
Track 13 on SIGCD070 [3'14] Download only

Track-specific metadata for CDH55364 track 17

Recording date
15 January 1999
Recording venue
Boxgrove Priory, Chichester, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Martin Compton
Recording engineer
Philip Hobbs
Hyperion usage
  1. Masters of the Rolls (CDA67098)
    Disc 1 Track 17
    Release date: September 1999
    Deletion date: August 2008
    Superseded by CDH55364
  2. Masters of the Rolls (CDH55364)
    Disc 1 Track 17
    Release date: July 2012
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