Sunday, 8 May 2016

Credo. I Believe.



The Credo.
Missa Papae Marcelli.
Palestrina.
The Tallis Scholars.
Available on YouTube at


The following Text is from Wikipedia - the free encyclopaedia.

Missa Papae Marcelli, or Pope Marcellus Mass, is a Mass by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. It is his most well-known and most often-performed Mass, and is frequently taught in University Courses on Music. It was sung at The Papal Coronation Masses (the last being the Coronation of Paul VI in 1963).

The Missa Papae Marcelli consists, like most Renaissance Masses, of a Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus/Benedictus, and Agnus Dei, though the third part of The Agnus Dei is a separate movement (designated "Agnus II"). The Mass is freely composed, not based upon a Cantus Firmus or Parody.

Perhaps because of this, the Mass is not as thematically consistent as Palestrina's Masses based on Models. It is primarily a six-voice Mass, but voice combinations are varied throughout the piece; Palestrina scores Agnus II for seven voices, and the use of the full forces is reserved for specific climactic portions in the Text.



The Sanctus and Benedictus.
Missa Papae Marcelli.
Palestrina.
The Tallis Scholars.
Available on YouTube at


The Mass was composed in honour of Pope Marcellus II, who reigned for three weeks in 1555. Recent scholarship suggests the most likely date of composition is 1562, when it was copied into a Manuscript at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.

The third and closing sessions of The Council of Trent were held in 1562–1563, at which the use of polyphonic music in The Catholic Church was discussed. Concerns were raised over two problems: First, the use of music that was objectionable, such as secular songs provided with religious lyrics (contrafacta) or Masses based on songs with lyrics about drinking or love-making; and second, whether imitation in polyphonic music obscured the words of The Mass, interfering with the listener's devotion.

Some debate occurred over whether polyphony should be banned outright in Worship, and some of the auxiliary publications by attendants of The Council caution against both of these problems. However, none of the official proclamations from The Council mentions polyphonic music, excepting one injunction against the use of music that is, in the words of The Council, "lascivious or impure".



The Agnus Dei.
Missa Papae Marcelli.
Palestrina.
The Tallis Scholars.
Available on YouTube at


Starting in the Late-16th-Century, a legend began that the second of these points, the threat that polyphony might have been banned by The Council because of the unintelligibility of the words, was the impetus behind Palestrina's composition of this Mass. It was believed that the simple, declamatory style of Missa Papae Marcelli convinced Cardinal Carlo Borromeo, on hearing, that polyphony could be intelligible, and that music such as Palestrina's was all too beautiful to ban from The Church. In 1607, the composer Agostino Agazzari wrote:
Music of the older kind is no longer in use, both because of the confusion and babel of the words, arising from the long and intricate imitations, and because it has no grace, for with all the voices singing, one hears neither period nor sense, these being interfered with and covered up by imitations . . . And on this account music would have come very near to being banished from The Holy Church by a Sovereign Pontiff [Pius IV], had not Giovanni Palestrina founded the remedy, showing that the fault and error lay, not with the music, but with the composers, and composing in confirmation of this the Mass entitled Missa Papae Marcelli.
— Quoted in Taruskin, Richard, and Weiss, Piero. Music in The Western World:A History in Documents. Schirmer, 1984, p. 141.

Jesuit musicians of the 17th-Century maintained this rumour, and it made its way into music history books into the 19th-Century, when historian Giuseppe Baini, in his 1828 biography of Palestrina, couched him as the "saviour of polyphony" from a Council wishing to wipe it out entirely.



Missa Papae Marcelli.
Palestrina.
The Tallis Scholars.
Director: Peter Phillips.
Available on YouTube at


the tallis scholars early music vocal ensemble peter phillips

The Tallis Scholars.
Photo © Eric Richmond

Soprano:

Jane Armstrong,
Alison Gough,
Stephanie Sale,
Judy Stell.

Countertenor:

Matthew Bright,
Paul Bropy,
Joe Cooke,
David Cordier.

Tenor:

Joseph Cornwell,
Andrew King,
Rufus Müller.

Bass:

Colin Mason,
Francis Steele,
Julian Walker,
Jeremy White.

Peter Phillips, Director.

the tallis scholars early music vocal ensemble peter phillips

Photo © Eric Richmond

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