Thursday, 22 November 2007

8. John Browne - Stabat Mater (copied c. 1490 - 1502)


Title: Music From The Eaton Choirbook
Performer: Tallis Scholars
Director: Peter Phillips
Year: 2005
Length: 16 minutes


This is the first of what will be many iterations of the same text in this list, there are more Stabat Maters than you can shake a stick at, and they have inspired many of the best pieces of liturgical music. This is the first one on the list and it is quite a nifty one.

If there is one thing to distinguish here it is the way in which although it is still a polyphonic piece of music with some similarities to the Motets thatwe have been listening to, it is also a piece of drama, recounting the suffering of the Virgin during the passion of Christ.

This dramatic level of the piece leads to some interesting vocal play where parts of the text have clearly a greater inflection and the music follows this by making parts more dramatic than others. For example when the cry of the people 'Crucifige' comes on it is very clear, asking for Christ to be crucified.

Another interesting aspect of this track is how some of the voices clearly stand out above the other to make some point, in a very clear and beautiful way. The text works organically like some kind of beautiful kaleidoscope.

Track Highlights

1. Stabat Mater

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

John Browne stands apart from the other Eton composers in his exceptionally varied choice of vocal forces - no two surviving works employ exactly the same - and in some predilection for very sombre texts. He stands apart from Lambe and the older composers in his greater liking for imitation and his somewhat less rigid handling of it (with for example more entries at intervals other than the unison or octave, notably at the fifth). Like Davy he is less inclined to use the old 'under-third' or 'Landini sixth' progression at a cadence (with leading-note falling by step before rising to its tonic) so beloved of John Dunstaple and Guillaume Dufay.

No youtube for you today...

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