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Owen Rees/conductor

Programmes 2021/2022

Programma I – Salve, salve, salve
Josquin’s Spanish legacy - 10 singers

In the sixteenth century there occurred something of a craze for the music of Josquin Desprez in Spain. Above all, Spanish composers displayed an enduring fascination with the potent rhetorical-musical techniques exploited by Josquin, such as ostinato. In this programme, Contrapunctus explores the ways in which the three greatest Spanish musicians of the golden age – Morales, Guerrero, and Victoria – emulated Josquin and even sought to ‘compete’ with him.

Jubilate Deo omnis terra                            Cristóbal de Morales (c. 1500–1553)
Inviolata, integra, et casta es Maria          Josquin Desprez (c. 1450–1521)
Agnus Dei, from Missa Gaudeamus           Josquin
Missa Gaudeamus                                      Thome Luis de Victoria (c. 1548–1611)
Salve regina                                                Josquin
Salve regina                                                Victoria
Missa Gaudeamus                                      Victoria
                      Agnus Dei
Surge propera amica mea                          Francisco Guerrero (1527/8-1599)

Programma II –  Pange lingua
Josquin’s late style - 10 singers

Contrapunctus here marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Josquin Desprez in 1521 with a survey of his later works, in which he established styles and techniques that were to be of enormously influential on later European composers. The centrepiece is the Missa Pange lingua – probably the
latest of his surviving Masses – in which Josquin weaves magnificent polyphony from a famous plainchant melody. His monumental setting of the Psalm Miserere mei Deus was to become one of the most frequently quoted of his works. We end the concert with the six-voice Pater noster/Ave Maria which Josquin chose to be performed at commemorative services after his death.

Pange lingua                                   chant
Missa Pange lingua             Josquin Desprez (c. 1450–1521)
Miserere mei Deus              Josquin
Missa Pane lingua              Josquin
                      Agnus Dei
Pater noster/Ave Maria       Josquin

Programma III – 1521
Josquin to Monte – 10 singers

The year 1521 saw the death of Europe’s most famous composer and the birth of one of the most eminent Flemish musicians of the later Renaissance. No composer before Palestrina established such a monumental reputation than did Josquin Desprez. His music was internationally known and published for decades after his death. An audible trace of that reputation is found in the works of later composers who paid homage to and emulated Josquin, such as in ‘parody’ Masses based on Josquin’s motets. This concert juxtaposes Josquin’s great Marian motet Benedicta es cælorum regina with the Mass based upon it by Philippe de Monte, who was born in Mechelen in 1521 and who spent most of his long career in Imperial Habsburg service in Vienna and Prague.

Bnedicta es cælorum regina           Josquin Desprez (c. 1450–1521)
Missa Benedicta es                        Philippe de Monte (1521–1603)
Missa Benedicta es                        Philippe de Monte
                     Agnus Dei
Nymphes de bois                          Josquin Desprez
Mille regretz                                  Josquin Desprez
Super flumina Babylonis                 Philippe de Monte

Programma IV – The Sands of the Sea -
Psalms from the Baldwin Partbooks – 10 singers

Following the success and critical acclaim of Contrapunctus’ first two discs in their major survey of music from the Baldwin Partbooks, we present the third and final instalment, focusing on settings of the Psalms from that significant source of Tudor polyphony. The music of these Latin Psalm settings is as richly varied as their texts, exploring the gamut of emotions from sorrow and penitence to faith and joy. The repertoire includes a number of grand and impressive masterworks which are extraordinarily little known today. Our CD recording of this repertory will be released in February 2021.

Domine quis habitabit                     Robert Parsons
Peccavi super numerum                 William Byrd
Confitebor tibi Domine                  Anon.
Tristitia et anxietas                         Byrd
Domine non est exaltatum              Robert White
Confitebor tibi Domine                  John Sheppard
Confitebor tibi Domine                   William Daman
Memor esto verbi tui                      William Mundy
Portio mea                                     Robert White
Ne perdas cum impiis                    William Byrd
 In te Domine speravi                     John Mundy

Programma V –  Plorans ploravit
The Lamentations of Fernando de Almeida – 9 singers

Here for the first time in concert are presented the full double-choir Lamentations by the Portuguese monk-musician Fernando de Almeida (c. 1600–1660), who was one of the most respected Portuguese composers of his age but who died in disgrace and starving as a prisoner of the Inquisition. This is music of the highest spiritual fervour and grandeur, which long languished in obscurity in the library of the Dukes of Bragança. Contrapunctus here raises Almeida’s work to its rightful position among the masterworks of the Portuguese golden age.

Lamentations for Maundy Thursday           Fernando de Almeida (c. 1600–1660)
Responsory I for Maundy Thursday           Almeida
                     In monte Oliveti                           
Panis angelicus                                           João Lourenço Rebelo (1610–1661)
Lamentations for Good Friday                    Almeida
Caligaverunt oculi mei                                Juan de Castro y Malagaray (c. 1572–1632)
Lamentations for Holy Saturday                 Almeida
Responsory II for Holy Saturday                Almeida
                     Jerusalem, surge

Programma VI –  Victoria’s Requiem
Music for the Exequies of Empress María of Hapsburg, 1603 – 12 singers

A reconstruction of the magnificent rites of mourning for the Empress María of Austria, one of the most influential women in sixteenth-century Europe. Tomás Luis de Victoria, who served the Empress as Chaplain, was inspired to complete his well-loved masterwork – the six-voice Requiem – for this grand occasion, composing the music at great speed in the period of a few weeks between the Empress’s death and her exequies at the Descalzas Reales convent in Madrid.

From Matins of the Dead
Circumdederunt me                                    Cristóbal de Morales (c. 1500–1553)
Venite exsultemus Domino                         Morales
Parce mihi Domine                                     Morales
Taedet anima mea                                      Tomás Luis de Victoria (c. 1548–1611)
Quis dabit capiti meo aquam                      Sebastián de Vivanco (c. 1551–1622)
Missa pro defunctis for six voices Victoria
Introit: Requiem æternam
Kyrie eleison
Gradual: Requiem æternam
Offertory: Domine Jesu Christe
Sanctus & Benedictus
Agnus Dei
Communion: Lux aeterna
Funeral motet: Versa est in luctum             Victoria
Responsory: Libera me, Domine                Victoria
Funeral motet: Versa est in luctum             Alonso Lobo (1555–1617)

Programma VII –  Harmonies of Devotion
Music from 17th-Century Italy – 8 singers

This programme reveals a glorious but largely unknown repertory of sacred music from seventeenth-century Italy, by Giovanni Legrenzi and his contemporaries. Legrenzi was one of the principal Venetian composers of the era, but his motets have for the most part languished in obscurity. This concert showcases little-known repertoire by Legrenzi, Colonna, Bernabei, and Steffani, revealing the chains of influence connecting them and extending back to their great Venetian predecessor, Monteverdi.

Cantate Domino                              Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)
Intret in conspectu tuo                     Giovanni Legrenzi (1626-1690)
Quam amarum est Maria                Legrenzi
Christe, adoramus te                       Monteverdi
Converte nos Deus                         Legrenzi
Qui diligit Mariam                            Agostino Steffani (1654-1728)
Adoramus te Christe                       Monteverdi
Tribulationes cordis mei                  Ercole Bernabei (1622-1687)
Salve regina                                    Legrenzi
Ave regina cælorum                        Legrenzi
Domine, ne in furore tuo                 Monteverdi
Crucifixus                                       Antonio Lotti (1666-1740)
Victimæ paschali laudes                 Giovanni Paolo Colonna (1637-1695)