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CHAN 0652
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CHAN 0652
Music for Good Friday

Palestrina: Music for Good Friday

The Classical Shop
release date: February 2000

Originally recorded in 1999

Artists:

Simon Ravens


Musica Contexta



Venue:

All Hallows Church, Gospel Oak, London



Producer:

Gary Cole



Engineer:

Gary Cole



Record Label
Chaconne

Genre:

Choir


Early Music

Total Time - 71:29
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Music for Good Friday

 

GIOVANNI PIERLUIGI DA PALESTRINA

Select Complete Single Disc for
   
 

Music for Good Friday

71:29  
1 

Lamentation I (Book III)

7:28
  Chant  
2 

Responsory I

3:06
3 

Lamentation II (Book III)

8:44
  Chant  
4 

Responsory II

3:16
5 

Lamentation III (Book III)

7:44
  Chant  
6 

Responsory III

4:36
  Chant  
7 

Antiphon

1:39
8 

Improperia

10:19
  Chant  
9 

Antiphon

2:19
10 

Hymn: Crux fidelis/Pange lingua

11:38
11 

Hymn: Vexilla regis

10:40
The second disc from new Chandos artists Musica Contexta is dedicated to Palestrina’s passionate music for Good Friday.

Musica Contexta was formed in 1991. Translated literally, the name becomes ‘music interwoven’, reflecting the group’s governing aim of presenting Renaissance music in the context of its original conception and function. Springing from this aim is a desire to reflect the many distinctive idioms and national styles of the Renaissance. Also, Musica Contexta only claims to present music as it could – not necessarily how it would –have been heard.


Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was one of the leading composers of the late sixteenth century and was particularly prolific in the composition of masses and motets, A key figure in Catholic music-making in the age of the Counter-Reformation, Palestrina succeeded in cohesively assimilating the richly developed polyphonic technique of his French-Flemish predecessors.

Palestrina’s setting of the Good Friday Improperia: a piece of such power that for years after its composition it was venerated by even the most esteemed of musicians. It was composed to be sung after the long recitation of the Passion as the Pope began the veneration of the cross in front of the bare altar on Good Friday in the Sistine Chapel. In this context it is easy to appreciate the aptness of the music which itself is stripped bare.

The music for the Improperia survives in two manuscripts which, viewed together, offer a fascinating insight into the renaissance approach to rhythm in monophonic music. In one manuscript (in Palestrina’s hand) the music is noted in equal values, whilst in the other stressed and unstressed syllables are assigned long and short notes respectively. Both represent the declamation of the spoken word. In another sense too the written form of the Improperia are less than sacrosanct: the length of the Improperia would be adjusted to match the timing of the liturgical adoration.

The hymn Vexilla Regis, originally written for the Choir of St Peter’s, would have marked the recession from the Sistine Chapel; the verse ‘O crux ave spes unica’ (O cross, our only hope, hail!) was to be synchronised with the exit of the Pope through the chapel door.


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