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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
Masters of the Rolls


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

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD070 track 13

Recording date
1 September 2004
Recording venue
Ely Cathedral, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Thomas Hewitt Jones
Recording engineer
Edward Bainton & Hugh Conway
Hyperion usage
  1. All the ends of the earth (SIGCD070)
    Disc 1 Track 13
    Release date: January 2006
    Download only
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