A Wondrous Mystery – Renaissance Choral Music for Christmas

Stile Antico

22.9931.49
Clear
Original Recording Format: DSD 64

With its centuries-old traditions of singing angels, piping shepherds, and the natural necessity for the Christ-child to be sung a lullaby (all, of course, embellishments to the comparatively stark and gritty biblical narratives in which even the angels speak rather than sing!), the celebration of the nativity of Christ has over the centuries come to provide a fertile source of inspiration for composers and musicians. The Christmas music in this present programme is gathered from some of the most highly regarded European composers of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, working in both the Roman Catholic and Lutheran church traditions. The latter yielded predominantly German-texted carols, often with a popular flavour and in simpler settings, while the former produced Latin polyphony. Running as a thread through the programme is Clemens’s Christmas mass based on the motet Pastores quidnam vidistis, while Praetorius’s Magnificat draws strongly on both traditions.
Though there are significant gaps in our knowledge about his life, Jacobus Clemens (whose designation ‘non Papa’ seems to have been a joke which stuck rather than a necessary disambiguator) was one of the most prolific composers of the early to mid-16th century, especially considering his comparatively short life. Though we know little about the circumstances surrounding the composition of the mass setting included here, it is without doubt a work of distinction. Clemens’s practice was almost invariably to base his masses on an existing motet or chanson using parody technique; this work is no exception, taking the composer’s own Christmas five-part motet of the same name as its model. In spite of a fair degree of motivic development, there is the sense of a tightly-knit relationship between the mass and its source, strengthened by the distinctive modal writing and the clarity of Clemens’s five-part counterpoint, augmented by one voice only in the Agnus, and decreased to three parts for the Benedictus – both common features of masses from this period. Certain distinctive musical features in the motet receive prominent treatment during the mass – perhaps most notably the descending bass figure towards the end and its accompanying harmonic sequence. This receives particularly striking treatment in the Osanna sections where, presented at double speed in the approach to the final cadence, the effect seems to evoke the sound of pealing bells.

Tracklist

1.
Ein Kind geborn in Bethlehem
03:26
2.
Motet - Pastores quidnam vidistis
05:01
3.
Es ist ein Ros entsprungen
02:57
4.
Missa Pastores quidnam vidistis - Kyrie
05:51
5.
Canite tuba
02:10
6.
Missa Pastores quidnam vidistis - Gloria
08:11
7.
Magnificat quinti toni
11:25
8.
Missa Pastores quidnam vidistis - Credo
10:09
9.
Mirabile mysterium
04:06
10.
Über's Gebirg Maria geht
02:56
11.
Missa Pastores quidnam vidistis - Sanctus & Benedictus
07:33
12.
Vom Himmel hoch
02:01
13.
Hodie Christus natus est
03:14
14.
Missa Pastores quidnam vidistis - Agnus Dei
03:51

Total time: 01:12:51

Additional information

Label

SKU

807575DI

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Artists

Composers

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Genres

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Original Recording Format

Producer

Robina G. Young

Recording Engineer

Brad Michel

Recording location

All Hallows' Church, gospel Oak, London

Recording Software

Merging

Recording Type & Bit Rate

DSD64

Release Date October 9, 2015

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