Friday, 30 November 2007

16. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina - Missa Papae Marcelli (1567)


Title: Allegri Miserere
Performer: The Sixteen
Director: Harry Christophers
Year: 1990
Length: 32 minutes


Now we are still in the realm of the vocal performances but it is interestingly some quite different music. Palestrina really comes to revolutionise the polyphonic mass with this. This is polyphony which is actually very intelligible!

Palestrina give us just one line of music to which embellishments are added with the other voices, this makes the text much more understandable. If you imagine motets as a forest of bamboo sticks, each corresponding to a voice, this is more like one big trunk with a lot of saplings growing from it.

So there is a very distinct sound here, and it is no surprise that this is one of those compositions that is still studied today by students at universities. It is a very beautiful composition and actually quite touching in this very powerful interpretation by the sixteen.

Track Highlights

1. Gloria
2. Credo
3. Sanctus Et Benedictus
4. Agnus Dei I

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

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.

The Gloria, by some other ensemble:

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