|Byrd, William - "Peccantem me quotidie" for Wind Quintet|
Byrd, William (1534 - 1623)
Flute, Hautbois, Cor anglais, Cor et Basson
|Tonalité :||Do mineur|
MAGATAGAN, MICHAEL (1960 - )
|Droit d'auteur :||Public Domain|
|Ajoutée par magataganm, 12 Déc 2022|
Even in an era so richly stocked with great names, William Byrd demands particular attention as the most prodigiously talented, prolific, and versatile composer of his generation, and together with his continental colleagues Giovanni Palestrina and Orlando de Lassus, one of the acknowledged great masters of the late Renaissance, due to his substantial volume of high-quality compositions in every genre of the time. Byrd's pre-eminent position at the beginning of music publication in England allowed him to leave a significant printed legacy at the inception of many important musical forms. It would be impossible to overestimate his subsequent influence on the music of England, the Low Countries, and Germany. Byrd was a Roman Catholic, and in addition to the church music that he composed for the Anglican services, he wrote Masses and liturgical music for the Catholic Church. He was also a composer of motets, polyphonic songs, and keyboard and consort music.
Byrd was born about 1540, and it is assumed that he was a chorister in the Chapel Royal (his brothers were choristers at St. Paul's Cathedral) and a student of Thomas Tallis. He certainly was a close friend of Tallis', as they worked closely together, and Byrd's second son was the godson of Tallis. Byrd was named organist and master of choristers of Lincoln Cathedral at the age of 20, where he wrote most of his English sacred music. In 1570 he was appointed a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, where he shared the post of organist with Tallis. Queen Elizabeth I, despite Byrd's intense commitment to Catholicism, was one of his benefactors, and granted him and Tallis a patent to print music in 1575. Their first publication was a collection of five- to eight-part, Latin motets, but they published little else. Around the same time, Byrd began composing for the virginal. His contribution to the solo keyboard repertoire comprises some 125 pieces, mostly stylized dances or exceptionally inventive sets of variations that inaugurated a golden age of English keyboard composition. Many of these pieces are found in one of two manuscripts: My Ladye Nevells Booke and the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book. In 1573 he became a permanent member of the Chapel Royal. Byrd contributed heavily to the developing genre of the English anthem, including the newer "verse" style with organ accompaniment, composing his widely regarded Great Service in this format. However, during the 1580s and 1590s, Byrd's Catholicism was the driving force for his music. As the persecution of Catholics increased during this period, and occasionally touched on Byrd and his family, he wrote and openly published music for Catholic services. This was inaugurated in 1575 with the volume of Cantiones Sacrae, a joint collection with Tallis.
Byrd's "Peccantem me quotidie", motet for 5 voices, is expressive right from the first note, expect perfect Byrd, and the musical expectations are generously fulfilled in this imitative motet from the 1575 Cantiones. Byrd's polyphonic techniques can build beautiful music with the sparest, flimsiest musical materials, so when, as here, the lines themselves are poignant, the result is pulse-quickening to say the least. He wastes no time bringing in all the voices. There is a wavering, dangerous quality throughout due to the strategically timed comings and goings of the bass voice and due to the perceptual contradiction of the lines being so charged with emotion, while the musical narrative so reasonable. When the soprano enters she sounds faintly hesitant, as if she's on a precariously loose tower of stones; then, to drive the point home, the harmonies smear out into dissonant suspensions and the bass (again) vanishes. It's scary.
As is Byrd's way, he intensifies his operations on every level as the piece progresses, in this case audibly taking his cues from the text. At the first "miserere" the harmonies get so rich that the polyphonic lines, moving along much as before, are practically blotted out by them. At the second "miserere" the bass again disappears at a dramatic point. When the bass and soprano are both present in Byrd, they are clearly the most important voices, so that removing the bass causes a fairly drastic change in perspective, all attention suddenly being drawn to the previously inner voices, and the whole becomes more airy and aloof. In terms of the music's rhetoric each suggests a different state of prayer: resigned or passionate. Witnessing constant fluctuations between the two in a person would bring our regretful pity, in music they bring only joy.
Source: AllMusic (https://www.allmusic.com/artist/william-byrd-mn0000804 200/biography)
Although originally composed for Chorus (SATTB or ATTBarB), I created this Interpretation of "Peccantem me quotidie" (I sin every day) for Wind Quintet (Flute, Oboe, English Horn, French Horn & Bassoon).
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