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  • Dufay and the Court of Savoy | The Binchois Consort
    differentiated and perhaps more appropriate dramatic fashion interspersed with music in a contrasting style for the Proper of the Mass also five movements Introit Gradual Alleluia Offertory Communion The programme is completed by two motets and the ballade on which the Mass is based This recording evokes in sound something of the cultural achievement and brilliance of the Court of Savoy at its first peak of maturity during the middle decades of the fifteenth century The musical works performed here complement and enrich the historical picture of the late medieval and Renaissance duchy that can be gleaned from the archives libraries and museums Live sound vividly extends and deepens the scope of such a picture just as does an appreciation of the geographical and architectural settings which are the physical stage for such cultural developments Digital booklet PDF Reviews binchoisAdmin July 31 2015 Se la face ay pale remains Dufay s most approchable mass this is easy effortless musicianship the balance is superb and all lines are presented in a free and supple manner that projects the music very well Gramophone Dufay was one of the greatest composers of the 15th century half a dozen recordings of Dufay s Missa Se la face are available but Kirkman s sweeps the board performances of great clarity pliancy and historical value a confirming display of excellence and insight BBC Music Magazine Dufay s Missa Se la face ay pale provides the backbone for this gloriously performed disc from the eight male voices of the pure toned Binchois Consort Contrasting motets and mass propers works of sublime clarity are rewardingly interspersed the results are mesmerising The Observer The singers more than adequately realise their stated aim of bringing the opulent Court of Savoy to life the singing on the CD is mellifluous and

    Original URL path: http://www.binchoisconsort.com/product/dufay-and-the-court-of-savoy/?add_to_wishlist=3172 (2016-02-13)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Mass for St Anthony Abbot | The Binchois Consort
    or her right inside the sound world of this remarkable work The Mass for St Anthony Abbot is a three voice plenary mass comprising the sections of the Ordinary together with movements of the Proper Introit Gradual Alleluia Offertory which set the texts of the day and thus mark the special character of the individual feast The absence in the source of both the Kyrie and the Communion has been compensated for in Planchart s edition used for this performance in the first case by reusing the Agnus music to the words of the Kyrie and in the second by the inclusion of a contemporary setting of the appropriate Communion from elsewhere in the Trent codices The Proper movements use the prescribed plainchants which are flexibly rhythmicized and elaborated in the highest voice part and presented as long arcs of melody that unfold concurrently with the freely invented lower voices The result is a free flow of polyphony of generally contemplative character that is tautened and given focus and momentum by the beautifully judged interaction of the vocal lines in particular by their rhythmic interplay The Ordinary movements too are conceived in a freely unfolding style that has no overtly dramatic or declamatory gestures but is driven forward both by the careful dovetailing of the parts with their incisive offset rhythms and melodic independence and also by the skilful control of the cadences in terms of their relative force and varied placement Beyond the moments of strong demarcation which come with the section breaks there is one clearly audible structural marker the top voice opens each of the five Ordinary movements with the same beautifully crafted motto opening the first segment of which begins with the descending tetrachord F E D C before expanding to fill the entire middle octave C C of its range the total compass of the part extends three notes either side of this Along with a few other characteristic melodic ideas this archetypically simple pattern recurs in a variety of figurative guises during the course of the work though it does so more as part of the ever changing ebb and flow of the piece than as a motive or theme in the modern sense This observation further serves to highlight the way in which this style far from projecting its effects with the kind of self dramatizing insistence we might expect from the experience of later music instead allows its ideas to proliferate with little concern for direct repetition or other similarly clear cut auditory cues It aims rather at a maximum of variety and invention Tinctoris s famed varietas within an overall textural ideal of unforced clarity and balance This of course doesn t mean that it refuses ever to adopt a more demonstrative tone of voice On the contrary it goes through passages of melodic and rhythmic intensification and even presents flashes of brilliance and moments of grandeur from time to time The Cum Sancto Spiritu at the end of the Gloria the brilliant high lying melody of the Et ponam section of the Gradual and the et vitam venturi conclusion to the Credo are cases in point But these serve precisely to reinforce by means of contrast the listener s cumulative impression of an infinitely subtle endlessly inventive play of sonority in which technical and expressive means have been mastered with elegance and ease Binchois s four voice Nove cantum melodie was written for a grand ceremonial event the baptism of a new male heir to the duchy of Burgundy in January 1431 It was therefore conceived as an appropriately festive adornment to the occasion and would perhaps have been sung by the full complement of Philip the Good s chapel singers all of whom are named in its text though it is equally possible that as here it would have been sung by a group of soloists Either way Binchois would have been at the very centre of the performance as singer and surely also as director The child was to be baptized Antoine whence the association with the guardian figure of St Anthony Abbot and with St Anthony of Padua who as a further namesake is also addressed within the text The motet is based on a repeating isorhythmic tenor pattern which underpins the whole edifice serving to ground and structure the music across the dynamic shifts of metre that help to propel the composition through its three linked continuously unfolding sections Full performance of this work has hitherto been precluded by the absence of two voices from the first section These have now been reconstructed and it is in this newly completed form that the work is recorded here Its overall proportions are controlled by the segmentation and layout of the tenor melody Binchois s manipulation not only of the notes themselves and of their individual durations but also of their division into extended rhythmic groups separated by carefully planned and measured gaps sets up the whole temporal framework of the piece And in doing so he also sketches in the harmonic that is cadential background against which the polyphony is composed The fifteen pitches of this stretched cantus firmus are taken from the first part of the Kyrie in simplici die though quite why Binchois should have selected a Kyrie for this purpose remains a mystery But whatever his precise motivation may have been the musical pattern derived from the presumed chant original is miraculously well shaped and ideally suited to its structural and expressive function within the finished composition In the performing edition prepared for this recording the wordless motet tenor has been supplied with a short freely invented Latin dictum of fifteen syllables one to a note in praise of St Anthony Drawing on both the northern Franco Flemish and more importantly the English tradition of motet writing in contrast to the strongly Italianate character of most of Dufay s grand motet output at this period Nove cantum nevertheless goes beyond its models in adopting three part texture in place of the more usual duos for the polyphonic sections between the tenor entries This in itself would make the motet striking and original but Binchois s inventiveness goes further In the reduced voice sections which though melodically free are also controlled by isorhythm he writes music that in almost virtuosic defiance of the rhythmic schemes to which they are bound is fluid and propulsive and so provides a striking foil to the more solid even monumental cast of the full four voice sections structured around the sustained tenor notes This fundamental contrast serves to energize and drive the whole composition and shows how a skilled composer while working in a craftsmanlike way to fulfil his professional functions and tasks and drawing on the full range of received techniques and approaches available to him might arrive at artistic solutions of astonishing subtlety and complexity without obscuring the brilliant simplicity of the basic idea Domitor Hectoris is composed in a quite different style It falls into two sections and exhibits varied duo combinations between the three individual voices as well as the full trio texture The rise and fall of the vocal lines is handled with Binchois s customary fluency and intelligence and as in many of the songs the meditative plangency of the idiom is shot through with distinctive melodic and rhythmic features which allow the music to grow and intensify without undermining its essentially poetic and lyric mode of utterance The sense of sheer ease and flow is seductive but also to an extent deceptive The melodic contours are in fact delicately controlled and the music s trajectory carefully plotted yet without any sense of inappropriate rigour or constraint The same goes for the overall pacing and for the expressive points of arrival within the course of the piece which all seem quite effortless but are in fact beautifully and surely quite consciously judged All in all Binchois s subtle rhetorical expansion of the motet s lyric moment has been effected with a sense of naturalness that artfully conceals the mechanics of elaboration Indeed Binchois had no equal as a melodist in the fifteenth century and this is as apparent here as in his rondeaux and ballades The motet text is a subtly woven tissue of ideas and images elaborated around the concepts of the Cross and the Holy Lance and their symbolic place in the scheme of Christian redemption Though the theological and symbolic associations are complex and ramified the poem itself is lucidly expressed with a beautiful simplicity and concision and shows like Binchois s music an exquisite sense of expressive tact and decorum The three mass movements are also written in an essentially lyric idiom which while being notably concise nevertheless shows a clear sense of musical shape and contour as well as a liking for occasional harmonic twists and moments of melodic daring These details serve to give point and focus to the polyphony and endow it with a sense of eventfulness within its relatively short span The movements show a close functional and stylistic relationship to the workaday plainchant idiom with which every musician of the era would have been familiar and with which his whole sense of melodic profile would have been imbued But Binchois shows a special sensitivity to the ways in which polyphonic interval music of this kind can be made to subtly extend and intensify by harmonic means the aura that surrounds monophonic lines while still staying close to both the letter and the spirit of the chant melodies The Kyrie in simplici die in particular has a beautiful and beautifully simple chant found nowhere else except for the fragment used in Nove cantum melodie and which in its reconstructed alternatim form shows a clear musical growth through the series of nine invocations to the final extended polyphonic Kyrie eleison From their presentation in the manuscript sources where they are provided with the plainsong intonations heard here the Sanctus Agnus pair might well appear to be chant based too But unusually for Binchois in such movements they too lack a known chant model and in this case it is much less easy to decide whether or not the music does in fact refer to such a model though the intonations at least should in theory be traceable If in contrast to the exciting complexities of Nove cantum melodie and to the poise and flow of Domitor Hectoris these mass movements of their very nature tend to show us the succinct even aphoristic side of Binchois s art they are nevertheless expressive of an idiom which within its economy and concision also implies more than it states and thus is able to achieve an unobtrusive sophistication in even its simplest lyric utterances A note on St Anthony Abbot The two St Anthonys are often confused today and perhaps more surprisingly were sometimes invoked together also a potential source of confusion in the Middle Ages This doubtless occurred chiefly because of the kinship of their shared name Yet such kinship however arbitrary it might appear to us was highly valued throughout the medieval period and beyond For all social classes from peasants to princes the name saint was an important figure one frequently thought of as a kind of patron or guardian and certainly as a privileged interlocutor and advocate in the realm of prayer The affective bond linking an individual to his or her name saint was thus a precious even intimate one that was keenly felt And the observance of the name day in connection with the relevant saint s feast was to remain a standard mode of celebration and of formal ceremonial festivity throughout Catholic Europe right through into the early nineteenth century In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries particularly name day celebrations at princely courts would often have been the occasion for important musical events and special commissions including cantatas serenatas and even Metastasian operas And in general the appeal to particular saints was felt to be an integral part of daily life both public and private throughout this period something that moreover was expressed in a variety of ways both in art and in social practice Polyphonic pieces written for saints days or for special votive celebrations or even just for reasons of personal devotion were the late medieval and early Renaissance equivalent of such cultural expressions And both Dufay s mass if it is his and Binchois s motet fit into this pattern in their rather different ways the former being more liturgical the latter more ceremonial in emphasis But the figure of St Anthony is central to both St Anthony Abbot c251 356 was a man of many facets A holy man and a hermit he was perhaps the most famous of all the Egyptian desert fathers a seeker after truth and a lover of the sacred texts a contemplative who also taught and so attracted many disciples as well as religious tourists He was in fact an all round exponent of heroic virtue as the Middle Ages understood it As such it is perhaps not surprising that he should have become the spiritual forefather and figurehead of Western monasticism though he himself never founded an order His life is unusually well documented beginning with the famous first hand biography written by St Athanasius who had known him personally though this did not of course in any way preclude the accumulation of legends from early on But his period of great fame in the medieval West occurred only later after the supposed translation of his relics in the eleventh century via Alexandria and Constantinople to their eventual resting place at La Motte St Didier south east of Vienne where the Antonine order was later established The place is now known as Saint Antoine en Viennois or St Antoine l Abbaye in the department of the Isère it lies due south of Berlioz s birth place and is on the western fringes of the region around Grenoble which was Messiaen s spiritual home and where he spent most of his summer vacations composing The miraculous healing powers of the relics made of the shrine a place of great pilgrimage and this together with the charitable and curative activities of the Brothers Hospitallers who bore his name made him one of the most beloved and admired of saints He was generally depicted in the garb of the medieval order and in addition to sequences of images depicting scenes from his life the more colourful incidents such as the famous temptations in the desert offered visual artists great scope for vivid and striking effects famously Bosch and Bruegel the latter inspiring Flaubert and also Matthias Grünewald in parts of the great Isenheim altarpiece now in Colmar which inspired the great scene of visionary torment in Hindemith s Mathis der Maler But his primary significance to the Middle Ages was as a spiritual warrior who fought manfully as we are twice reminded in the Mass for St Anthony Abbot These words appear in the Vox de caelo text which is used for a short independent antiphon by Binchois as well as for the Alleluia and in part for the Offertory of the mass It was one of the best known verbal tags from the great fund of anecdotes about the saint both factual and legendary which survive in the various hagiographical and biographical sources It occupies a prominent place for instance in the hugely popular Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine one of the most widely copied of all medieval texts and one of the earliest books printed by Caxton Anthony of Padua c1193 1231 canonized 1232 on the other hand was a figure of medieval rather than late antique history He was born in Lisbon and was one of the most eminent personalities of the early Franciscan movement He was active as a missionary and this activity was linked with the development of his legendary skills as a preacher In pragmatic fashion he first began sermonizing the infidel and promulgating the virtues of the Christian gospel But after his fairly swift move to Italy he continued to preach with tremendous energy and drive seemingly all the time and everywhere even to the fishes as Mahler remembered in the Des Knaben Wunderhorn songs exhorting persuading and admonishing according to the needs and dictates of the occasion In later years he settled at Padua where his shrine was established and where the great basilica named in his honour which survives today was built The Missa Sancti Anthonii de Padua was probably composed around 1450 or slightly before the surviving version was copied in the mid 1450s according to Peter Wright s latest dating of its sources We learn from the composer s executors account that it had already been in use at Cambrai for the celebration of the saint s feast on 13 June for a considerable time prior to his death The will directs that the mass should be sung annually in his memory for the salvation of his own and others souls those close to him by ties of blood or friendship On the other hand the Vienne mass seems rather to have been an offering by Dufay to the singers chapel as a whole a broader gesture with more of a collective and indeed social intention in contrast to the highly personalized intention of the Padua mass They both however embody and express in their different ways the ethos as well as the sheer skill of the community of musicians who surely first sang them and continued to do so we may safely assume for several decades A note on anonymity authorship and attribution The medieval world was never so wholly given over to anonymity in art as historians have at times implied There are enough surviving artists signatures in manuscript illuminations and on portal sculptures or picture frames as well as evidence of careful attributions in at least some musical sources to

    Original URL path: http://www.binchoisconsort.com/product/mass-for-st-anthony-abbot-2/?add_to_wishlist=3172 (2016-02-13)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Mass for St Anthony Abbot | The Binchois Consort
    or her right inside the sound world of this remarkable work The Mass for St Anthony Abbot is a three voice plenary mass comprising the sections of the Ordinary together with movements of the Proper Introit Gradual Alleluia Offertory which set the texts of the day and thus mark the special character of the individual feast The absence in the source of both the Kyrie and the Communion has been compensated for in Planchart s edition used for this performance in the first case by reusing the Agnus music to the words of the Kyrie and in the second by the inclusion of a contemporary setting of the appropriate Communion from elsewhere in the Trent codices The Proper movements use the prescribed plainchants which are flexibly rhythmicized and elaborated in the highest voice part and presented as long arcs of melody that unfold concurrently with the freely invented lower voices The result is a free flow of polyphony of generally contemplative character that is tautened and given focus and momentum by the beautifully judged interaction of the vocal lines in particular by their rhythmic interplay The Ordinary movements too are conceived in a freely unfolding style that has no overtly dramatic or declamatory gestures but is driven forward both by the careful dovetailing of the parts with their incisive offset rhythms and melodic independence and also by the skilful control of the cadences in terms of their relative force and varied placement Beyond the moments of strong demarcation which come with the section breaks there is one clearly audible structural marker the top voice opens each of the five Ordinary movements with the same beautifully crafted motto opening the first segment of which begins with the descending tetrachord F E D C before expanding to fill the entire middle octave C C of its range the total compass of the part extends three notes either side of this Along with a few other characteristic melodic ideas this archetypically simple pattern recurs in a variety of figurative guises during the course of the work though it does so more as part of the ever changing ebb and flow of the piece than as a motive or theme in the modern sense This observation further serves to highlight the way in which this style far from projecting its effects with the kind of self dramatizing insistence we might expect from the experience of later music instead allows its ideas to proliferate with little concern for direct repetition or other similarly clear cut auditory cues It aims rather at a maximum of variety and invention Tinctoris s famed varietas within an overall textural ideal of unforced clarity and balance This of course doesn t mean that it refuses ever to adopt a more demonstrative tone of voice On the contrary it goes through passages of melodic and rhythmic intensification and even presents flashes of brilliance and moments of grandeur from time to time The Cum Sancto Spiritu at the end of the Gloria the brilliant high lying melody of the Et ponam section of the Gradual and the et vitam venturi conclusion to the Credo are cases in point But these serve precisely to reinforce by means of contrast the listener s cumulative impression of an infinitely subtle endlessly inventive play of sonority in which technical and expressive means have been mastered with elegance and ease Binchois s four voice Nove cantum melodie was written for a grand ceremonial event the baptism of a new male heir to the duchy of Burgundy in January 1431 It was therefore conceived as an appropriately festive adornment to the occasion and would perhaps have been sung by the full complement of Philip the Good s chapel singers all of whom are named in its text though it is equally possible that as here it would have been sung by a group of soloists Either way Binchois would have been at the very centre of the performance as singer and surely also as director The child was to be baptized Antoine whence the association with the guardian figure of St Anthony Abbot and with St Anthony of Padua who as a further namesake is also addressed within the text The motet is based on a repeating isorhythmic tenor pattern which underpins the whole edifice serving to ground and structure the music across the dynamic shifts of metre that help to propel the composition through its three linked continuously unfolding sections Full performance of this work has hitherto been precluded by the absence of two voices from the first section These have now been reconstructed and it is in this newly completed form that the work is recorded here Its overall proportions are controlled by the segmentation and layout of the tenor melody Binchois s manipulation not only of the notes themselves and of their individual durations but also of their division into extended rhythmic groups separated by carefully planned and measured gaps sets up the whole temporal framework of the piece And in doing so he also sketches in the harmonic that is cadential background against which the polyphony is composed The fifteen pitches of this stretched cantus firmus are taken from the first part of the Kyrie in simplici die though quite why Binchois should have selected a Kyrie for this purpose remains a mystery But whatever his precise motivation may have been the musical pattern derived from the presumed chant original is miraculously well shaped and ideally suited to its structural and expressive function within the finished composition In the performing edition prepared for this recording the wordless motet tenor has been supplied with a short freely invented Latin dictum of fifteen syllables one to a note in praise of St Anthony Drawing on both the northern Franco Flemish and more importantly the English tradition of motet writing in contrast to the strongly Italianate character of most of Dufay s grand motet output at this period Nove cantum nevertheless goes beyond its models in adopting three part texture in place of the more usual duos for the polyphonic sections between the tenor entries This in itself would make the motet striking and original but Binchois s inventiveness goes further In the reduced voice sections which though melodically free are also controlled by isorhythm he writes music that in almost virtuosic defiance of the rhythmic schemes to which they are bound is fluid and propulsive and so provides a striking foil to the more solid even monumental cast of the full four voice sections structured around the sustained tenor notes This fundamental contrast serves to energize and drive the whole composition and shows how a skilled composer while working in a craftsmanlike way to fulfil his professional functions and tasks and drawing on the full range of received techniques and approaches available to him might arrive at artistic solutions of astonishing subtlety and complexity without obscuring the brilliant simplicity of the basic idea Domitor Hectoris is composed in a quite different style It falls into two sections and exhibits varied duo combinations between the three individual voices as well as the full trio texture The rise and fall of the vocal lines is handled with Binchois s customary fluency and intelligence and as in many of the songs the meditative plangency of the idiom is shot through with distinctive melodic and rhythmic features which allow the music to grow and intensify without undermining its essentially poetic and lyric mode of utterance The sense of sheer ease and flow is seductive but also to an extent deceptive The melodic contours are in fact delicately controlled and the music s trajectory carefully plotted yet without any sense of inappropriate rigour or constraint The same goes for the overall pacing and for the expressive points of arrival within the course of the piece which all seem quite effortless but are in fact beautifully and surely quite consciously judged All in all Binchois s subtle rhetorical expansion of the motet s lyric moment has been effected with a sense of naturalness that artfully conceals the mechanics of elaboration Indeed Binchois had no equal as a melodist in the fifteenth century and this is as apparent here as in his rondeaux and ballades The motet text is a subtly woven tissue of ideas and images elaborated around the concepts of the Cross and the Holy Lance and their symbolic place in the scheme of Christian redemption Though the theological and symbolic associations are complex and ramified the poem itself is lucidly expressed with a beautiful simplicity and concision and shows like Binchois s music an exquisite sense of expressive tact and decorum The three mass movements are also written in an essentially lyric idiom which while being notably concise nevertheless shows a clear sense of musical shape and contour as well as a liking for occasional harmonic twists and moments of melodic daring These details serve to give point and focus to the polyphony and endow it with a sense of eventfulness within its relatively short span The movements show a close functional and stylistic relationship to the workaday plainchant idiom with which every musician of the era would have been familiar and with which his whole sense of melodic profile would have been imbued But Binchois shows a special sensitivity to the ways in which polyphonic interval music of this kind can be made to subtly extend and intensify by harmonic means the aura that surrounds monophonic lines while still staying close to both the letter and the spirit of the chant melodies The Kyrie in simplici die in particular has a beautiful and beautifully simple chant found nowhere else except for the fragment used in Nove cantum melodie and which in its reconstructed alternatim form shows a clear musical growth through the series of nine invocations to the final extended polyphonic Kyrie eleison From their presentation in the manuscript sources where they are provided with the plainsong intonations heard here the Sanctus Agnus pair might well appear to be chant based too But unusually for Binchois in such movements they too lack a known chant model and in this case it is much less easy to decide whether or not the music does in fact refer to such a model though the intonations at least should in theory be traceable If in contrast to the exciting complexities of Nove cantum melodie and to the poise and flow of Domitor Hectoris these mass movements of their very nature tend to show us the succinct even aphoristic side of Binchois s art they are nevertheless expressive of an idiom which within its economy and concision also implies more than it states and thus is able to achieve an unobtrusive sophistication in even its simplest lyric utterances A note on St Anthony Abbot The two St Anthonys are often confused today and perhaps more surprisingly were sometimes invoked together also a potential source of confusion in the Middle Ages This doubtless occurred chiefly because of the kinship of their shared name Yet such kinship however arbitrary it might appear to us was highly valued throughout the medieval period and beyond For all social classes from peasants to princes the name saint was an important figure one frequently thought of as a kind of patron or guardian and certainly as a privileged interlocutor and advocate in the realm of prayer The affective bond linking an individual to his or her name saint was thus a precious even intimate one that was keenly felt And the observance of the name day in connection with the relevant saint s feast was to remain a standard mode of celebration and of formal ceremonial festivity throughout Catholic Europe right through into the early nineteenth century In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries particularly name day celebrations at princely courts would often have been the occasion for important musical events and special commissions including cantatas serenatas and even Metastasian operas And in general the appeal to particular saints was felt to be an integral part of daily life both public and private throughout this period something that moreover was expressed in a variety of ways both in art and in social practice Polyphonic pieces written for saints days or for special votive celebrations or even just for reasons of personal devotion were the late medieval and early Renaissance equivalent of such cultural expressions And both Dufay s mass if it is his and Binchois s motet fit into this pattern in their rather different ways the former being more liturgical the latter more ceremonial in emphasis But the figure of St Anthony is central to both St Anthony Abbot c251 356 was a man of many facets A holy man and a hermit he was perhaps the most famous of all the Egyptian desert fathers a seeker after truth and a lover of the sacred texts a contemplative who also taught and so attracted many disciples as well as religious tourists He was in fact an all round exponent of heroic virtue as the Middle Ages understood it As such it is perhaps not surprising that he should have become the spiritual forefather and figurehead of Western monasticism though he himself never founded an order His life is unusually well documented beginning with the famous first hand biography written by St Athanasius who had known him personally though this did not of course in any way preclude the accumulation of legends from early on But his period of great fame in the medieval West occurred only later after the supposed translation of his relics in the eleventh century via Alexandria and Constantinople to their eventual resting place at La Motte St Didier south east of Vienne where the Antonine order was later established The place is now known as Saint Antoine en Viennois or St Antoine l Abbaye in the department of the Isère it lies due south of Berlioz s birth place and is on the western fringes of the region around Grenoble which was Messiaen s spiritual home and where he spent most of his summer vacations composing The miraculous healing powers of the relics made of the shrine a place of great pilgrimage and this together with the charitable and curative activities of the Brothers Hospitallers who bore his name made him one of the most beloved and admired of saints He was generally depicted in the garb of the medieval order and in addition to sequences of images depicting scenes from his life the more colourful incidents such as the famous temptations in the desert offered visual artists great scope for vivid and striking effects famously Bosch and Bruegel the latter inspiring Flaubert and also Matthias Grünewald in parts of the great Isenheim altarpiece now in Colmar which inspired the great scene of visionary torment in Hindemith s Mathis der Maler But his primary significance to the Middle Ages was as a spiritual warrior who fought manfully as we are twice reminded in the Mass for St Anthony Abbot These words appear in the Vox de caelo text which is used for a short independent antiphon by Binchois as well as for the Alleluia and in part for the Offertory of the mass It was one of the best known verbal tags from the great fund of anecdotes about the saint both factual and legendary which survive in the various hagiographical and biographical sources It occupies a prominent place for instance in the hugely popular Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine one of the most widely copied of all medieval texts and one of the earliest books printed by Caxton Anthony of Padua c1193 1231 canonized 1232 on the other hand was a figure of medieval rather than late antique history He was born in Lisbon and was one of the most eminent personalities of the early Franciscan movement He was active as a missionary and this activity was linked with the development of his legendary skills as a preacher In pragmatic fashion he first began sermonizing the infidel and promulgating the virtues of the Christian gospel But after his fairly swift move to Italy he continued to preach with tremendous energy and drive seemingly all the time and everywhere even to the fishes as Mahler remembered in the Des Knaben Wunderhorn songs exhorting persuading and admonishing according to the needs and dictates of the occasion In later years he settled at Padua where his shrine was established and where the great basilica named in his honour which survives today was built The Missa Sancti Anthonii de Padua was probably composed around 1450 or slightly before the surviving version was copied in the mid 1450s according to Peter Wright s latest dating of its sources We learn from the composer s executors account that it had already been in use at Cambrai for the celebration of the saint s feast on 13 June for a considerable time prior to his death The will directs that the mass should be sung annually in his memory for the salvation of his own and others souls those close to him by ties of blood or friendship On the other hand the Vienne mass seems rather to have been an offering by Dufay to the singers chapel as a whole a broader gesture with more of a collective and indeed social intention in contrast to the highly personalized intention of the Padua mass They both however embody and express in their different ways the ethos as well as the sheer skill of the community of musicians who surely first sang them and continued to do so we may safely assume for several decades A note on anonymity authorship and attribution The medieval world was never so wholly given over to anonymity in art as historians have at times implied There are enough surviving artists signatures in manuscript illuminations and on portal sculptures or picture frames as well as evidence of careful attributions in at least some musical sources to

    Original URL path: http://www.binchoisconsort.com/product/mass-for-st-anthony-abbot-2/?add_to_wishlist=3174 (2016-02-13)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Mass for St Anthony Abbot | The Binchois Consort
    or her right inside the sound world of this remarkable work The Mass for St Anthony Abbot is a three voice plenary mass comprising the sections of the Ordinary together with movements of the Proper Introit Gradual Alleluia Offertory which set the texts of the day and thus mark the special character of the individual feast The absence in the source of both the Kyrie and the Communion has been compensated for in Planchart s edition used for this performance in the first case by reusing the Agnus music to the words of the Kyrie and in the second by the inclusion of a contemporary setting of the appropriate Communion from elsewhere in the Trent codices The Proper movements use the prescribed plainchants which are flexibly rhythmicized and elaborated in the highest voice part and presented as long arcs of melody that unfold concurrently with the freely invented lower voices The result is a free flow of polyphony of generally contemplative character that is tautened and given focus and momentum by the beautifully judged interaction of the vocal lines in particular by their rhythmic interplay The Ordinary movements too are conceived in a freely unfolding style that has no overtly dramatic or declamatory gestures but is driven forward both by the careful dovetailing of the parts with their incisive offset rhythms and melodic independence and also by the skilful control of the cadences in terms of their relative force and varied placement Beyond the moments of strong demarcation which come with the section breaks there is one clearly audible structural marker the top voice opens each of the five Ordinary movements with the same beautifully crafted motto opening the first segment of which begins with the descending tetrachord F E D C before expanding to fill the entire middle octave C C of its range the total compass of the part extends three notes either side of this Along with a few other characteristic melodic ideas this archetypically simple pattern recurs in a variety of figurative guises during the course of the work though it does so more as part of the ever changing ebb and flow of the piece than as a motive or theme in the modern sense This observation further serves to highlight the way in which this style far from projecting its effects with the kind of self dramatizing insistence we might expect from the experience of later music instead allows its ideas to proliferate with little concern for direct repetition or other similarly clear cut auditory cues It aims rather at a maximum of variety and invention Tinctoris s famed varietas within an overall textural ideal of unforced clarity and balance This of course doesn t mean that it refuses ever to adopt a more demonstrative tone of voice On the contrary it goes through passages of melodic and rhythmic intensification and even presents flashes of brilliance and moments of grandeur from time to time The Cum Sancto Spiritu at the end of the Gloria the brilliant high lying melody of the Et ponam section of the Gradual and the et vitam venturi conclusion to the Credo are cases in point But these serve precisely to reinforce by means of contrast the listener s cumulative impression of an infinitely subtle endlessly inventive play of sonority in which technical and expressive means have been mastered with elegance and ease Binchois s four voice Nove cantum melodie was written for a grand ceremonial event the baptism of a new male heir to the duchy of Burgundy in January 1431 It was therefore conceived as an appropriately festive adornment to the occasion and would perhaps have been sung by the full complement of Philip the Good s chapel singers all of whom are named in its text though it is equally possible that as here it would have been sung by a group of soloists Either way Binchois would have been at the very centre of the performance as singer and surely also as director The child was to be baptized Antoine whence the association with the guardian figure of St Anthony Abbot and with St Anthony of Padua who as a further namesake is also addressed within the text The motet is based on a repeating isorhythmic tenor pattern which underpins the whole edifice serving to ground and structure the music across the dynamic shifts of metre that help to propel the composition through its three linked continuously unfolding sections Full performance of this work has hitherto been precluded by the absence of two voices from the first section These have now been reconstructed and it is in this newly completed form that the work is recorded here Its overall proportions are controlled by the segmentation and layout of the tenor melody Binchois s manipulation not only of the notes themselves and of their individual durations but also of their division into extended rhythmic groups separated by carefully planned and measured gaps sets up the whole temporal framework of the piece And in doing so he also sketches in the harmonic that is cadential background against which the polyphony is composed The fifteen pitches of this stretched cantus firmus are taken from the first part of the Kyrie in simplici die though quite why Binchois should have selected a Kyrie for this purpose remains a mystery But whatever his precise motivation may have been the musical pattern derived from the presumed chant original is miraculously well shaped and ideally suited to its structural and expressive function within the finished composition In the performing edition prepared for this recording the wordless motet tenor has been supplied with a short freely invented Latin dictum of fifteen syllables one to a note in praise of St Anthony Drawing on both the northern Franco Flemish and more importantly the English tradition of motet writing in contrast to the strongly Italianate character of most of Dufay s grand motet output at this period Nove cantum nevertheless goes beyond its models in adopting three part texture in place of the more usual duos for the polyphonic sections between the tenor entries This in itself would make the motet striking and original but Binchois s inventiveness goes further In the reduced voice sections which though melodically free are also controlled by isorhythm he writes music that in almost virtuosic defiance of the rhythmic schemes to which they are bound is fluid and propulsive and so provides a striking foil to the more solid even monumental cast of the full four voice sections structured around the sustained tenor notes This fundamental contrast serves to energize and drive the whole composition and shows how a skilled composer while working in a craftsmanlike way to fulfil his professional functions and tasks and drawing on the full range of received techniques and approaches available to him might arrive at artistic solutions of astonishing subtlety and complexity without obscuring the brilliant simplicity of the basic idea Domitor Hectoris is composed in a quite different style It falls into two sections and exhibits varied duo combinations between the three individual voices as well as the full trio texture The rise and fall of the vocal lines is handled with Binchois s customary fluency and intelligence and as in many of the songs the meditative plangency of the idiom is shot through with distinctive melodic and rhythmic features which allow the music to grow and intensify without undermining its essentially poetic and lyric mode of utterance The sense of sheer ease and flow is seductive but also to an extent deceptive The melodic contours are in fact delicately controlled and the music s trajectory carefully plotted yet without any sense of inappropriate rigour or constraint The same goes for the overall pacing and for the expressive points of arrival within the course of the piece which all seem quite effortless but are in fact beautifully and surely quite consciously judged All in all Binchois s subtle rhetorical expansion of the motet s lyric moment has been effected with a sense of naturalness that artfully conceals the mechanics of elaboration Indeed Binchois had no equal as a melodist in the fifteenth century and this is as apparent here as in his rondeaux and ballades The motet text is a subtly woven tissue of ideas and images elaborated around the concepts of the Cross and the Holy Lance and their symbolic place in the scheme of Christian redemption Though the theological and symbolic associations are complex and ramified the poem itself is lucidly expressed with a beautiful simplicity and concision and shows like Binchois s music an exquisite sense of expressive tact and decorum The three mass movements are also written in an essentially lyric idiom which while being notably concise nevertheless shows a clear sense of musical shape and contour as well as a liking for occasional harmonic twists and moments of melodic daring These details serve to give point and focus to the polyphony and endow it with a sense of eventfulness within its relatively short span The movements show a close functional and stylistic relationship to the workaday plainchant idiom with which every musician of the era would have been familiar and with which his whole sense of melodic profile would have been imbued But Binchois shows a special sensitivity to the ways in which polyphonic interval music of this kind can be made to subtly extend and intensify by harmonic means the aura that surrounds monophonic lines while still staying close to both the letter and the spirit of the chant melodies The Kyrie in simplici die in particular has a beautiful and beautifully simple chant found nowhere else except for the fragment used in Nove cantum melodie and which in its reconstructed alternatim form shows a clear musical growth through the series of nine invocations to the final extended polyphonic Kyrie eleison From their presentation in the manuscript sources where they are provided with the plainsong intonations heard here the Sanctus Agnus pair might well appear to be chant based too But unusually for Binchois in such movements they too lack a known chant model and in this case it is much less easy to decide whether or not the music does in fact refer to such a model though the intonations at least should in theory be traceable If in contrast to the exciting complexities of Nove cantum melodie and to the poise and flow of Domitor Hectoris these mass movements of their very nature tend to show us the succinct even aphoristic side of Binchois s art they are nevertheless expressive of an idiom which within its economy and concision also implies more than it states and thus is able to achieve an unobtrusive sophistication in even its simplest lyric utterances A note on St Anthony Abbot The two St Anthonys are often confused today and perhaps more surprisingly were sometimes invoked together also a potential source of confusion in the Middle Ages This doubtless occurred chiefly because of the kinship of their shared name Yet such kinship however arbitrary it might appear to us was highly valued throughout the medieval period and beyond For all social classes from peasants to princes the name saint was an important figure one frequently thought of as a kind of patron or guardian and certainly as a privileged interlocutor and advocate in the realm of prayer The affective bond linking an individual to his or her name saint was thus a precious even intimate one that was keenly felt And the observance of the name day in connection with the relevant saint s feast was to remain a standard mode of celebration and of formal ceremonial festivity throughout Catholic Europe right through into the early nineteenth century In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries particularly name day celebrations at princely courts would often have been the occasion for important musical events and special commissions including cantatas serenatas and even Metastasian operas And in general the appeal to particular saints was felt to be an integral part of daily life both public and private throughout this period something that moreover was expressed in a variety of ways both in art and in social practice Polyphonic pieces written for saints days or for special votive celebrations or even just for reasons of personal devotion were the late medieval and early Renaissance equivalent of such cultural expressions And both Dufay s mass if it is his and Binchois s motet fit into this pattern in their rather different ways the former being more liturgical the latter more ceremonial in emphasis But the figure of St Anthony is central to both St Anthony Abbot c251 356 was a man of many facets A holy man and a hermit he was perhaps the most famous of all the Egyptian desert fathers a seeker after truth and a lover of the sacred texts a contemplative who also taught and so attracted many disciples as well as religious tourists He was in fact an all round exponent of heroic virtue as the Middle Ages understood it As such it is perhaps not surprising that he should have become the spiritual forefather and figurehead of Western monasticism though he himself never founded an order His life is unusually well documented beginning with the famous first hand biography written by St Athanasius who had known him personally though this did not of course in any way preclude the accumulation of legends from early on But his period of great fame in the medieval West occurred only later after the supposed translation of his relics in the eleventh century via Alexandria and Constantinople to their eventual resting place at La Motte St Didier south east of Vienne where the Antonine order was later established The place is now known as Saint Antoine en Viennois or St Antoine l Abbaye in the department of the Isère it lies due south of Berlioz s birth place and is on the western fringes of the region around Grenoble which was Messiaen s spiritual home and where he spent most of his summer vacations composing The miraculous healing powers of the relics made of the shrine a place of great pilgrimage and this together with the charitable and curative activities of the Brothers Hospitallers who bore his name made him one of the most beloved and admired of saints He was generally depicted in the garb of the medieval order and in addition to sequences of images depicting scenes from his life the more colourful incidents such as the famous temptations in the desert offered visual artists great scope for vivid and striking effects famously Bosch and Bruegel the latter inspiring Flaubert and also Matthias Grünewald in parts of the great Isenheim altarpiece now in Colmar which inspired the great scene of visionary torment in Hindemith s Mathis der Maler But his primary significance to the Middle Ages was as a spiritual warrior who fought manfully as we are twice reminded in the Mass for St Anthony Abbot These words appear in the Vox de caelo text which is used for a short independent antiphon by Binchois as well as for the Alleluia and in part for the Offertory of the mass It was one of the best known verbal tags from the great fund of anecdotes about the saint both factual and legendary which survive in the various hagiographical and biographical sources It occupies a prominent place for instance in the hugely popular Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine one of the most widely copied of all medieval texts and one of the earliest books printed by Caxton Anthony of Padua c1193 1231 canonized 1232 on the other hand was a figure of medieval rather than late antique history He was born in Lisbon and was one of the most eminent personalities of the early Franciscan movement He was active as a missionary and this activity was linked with the development of his legendary skills as a preacher In pragmatic fashion he first began sermonizing the infidel and promulgating the virtues of the Christian gospel But after his fairly swift move to Italy he continued to preach with tremendous energy and drive seemingly all the time and everywhere even to the fishes as Mahler remembered in the Des Knaben Wunderhorn songs exhorting persuading and admonishing according to the needs and dictates of the occasion In later years he settled at Padua where his shrine was established and where the great basilica named in his honour which survives today was built The Missa Sancti Anthonii de Padua was probably composed around 1450 or slightly before the surviving version was copied in the mid 1450s according to Peter Wright s latest dating of its sources We learn from the composer s executors account that it had already been in use at Cambrai for the celebration of the saint s feast on 13 June for a considerable time prior to his death The will directs that the mass should be sung annually in his memory for the salvation of his own and others souls those close to him by ties of blood or friendship On the other hand the Vienne mass seems rather to have been an offering by Dufay to the singers chapel as a whole a broader gesture with more of a collective and indeed social intention in contrast to the highly personalized intention of the Padua mass They both however embody and express in their different ways the ethos as well as the sheer skill of the community of musicians who surely first sang them and continued to do so we may safely assume for several decades A note on anonymity authorship and attribution The medieval world was never so wholly given over to anonymity in art as historians have at times implied There are enough surviving artists signatures in manuscript illuminations and on portal sculptures or picture frames as well as evidence of careful attributions in at least some musical sources to

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    Open archived version from archive

  • Mass for St Anthony Abbot | The Binchois Consort
    or her right inside the sound world of this remarkable work The Mass for St Anthony Abbot is a three voice plenary mass comprising the sections of the Ordinary together with movements of the Proper Introit Gradual Alleluia Offertory which set the texts of the day and thus mark the special character of the individual feast The absence in the source of both the Kyrie and the Communion has been compensated for in Planchart s edition used for this performance in the first case by reusing the Agnus music to the words of the Kyrie and in the second by the inclusion of a contemporary setting of the appropriate Communion from elsewhere in the Trent codices The Proper movements use the prescribed plainchants which are flexibly rhythmicized and elaborated in the highest voice part and presented as long arcs of melody that unfold concurrently with the freely invented lower voices The result is a free flow of polyphony of generally contemplative character that is tautened and given focus and momentum by the beautifully judged interaction of the vocal lines in particular by their rhythmic interplay The Ordinary movements too are conceived in a freely unfolding style that has no overtly dramatic or declamatory gestures but is driven forward both by the careful dovetailing of the parts with their incisive offset rhythms and melodic independence and also by the skilful control of the cadences in terms of their relative force and varied placement Beyond the moments of strong demarcation which come with the section breaks there is one clearly audible structural marker the top voice opens each of the five Ordinary movements with the same beautifully crafted motto opening the first segment of which begins with the descending tetrachord F E D C before expanding to fill the entire middle octave C C of its range the total compass of the part extends three notes either side of this Along with a few other characteristic melodic ideas this archetypically simple pattern recurs in a variety of figurative guises during the course of the work though it does so more as part of the ever changing ebb and flow of the piece than as a motive or theme in the modern sense This observation further serves to highlight the way in which this style far from projecting its effects with the kind of self dramatizing insistence we might expect from the experience of later music instead allows its ideas to proliferate with little concern for direct repetition or other similarly clear cut auditory cues It aims rather at a maximum of variety and invention Tinctoris s famed varietas within an overall textural ideal of unforced clarity and balance This of course doesn t mean that it refuses ever to adopt a more demonstrative tone of voice On the contrary it goes through passages of melodic and rhythmic intensification and even presents flashes of brilliance and moments of grandeur from time to time The Cum Sancto Spiritu at the end of the Gloria the brilliant high lying melody of the Et ponam section of the Gradual and the et vitam venturi conclusion to the Credo are cases in point But these serve precisely to reinforce by means of contrast the listener s cumulative impression of an infinitely subtle endlessly inventive play of sonority in which technical and expressive means have been mastered with elegance and ease Binchois s four voice Nove cantum melodie was written for a grand ceremonial event the baptism of a new male heir to the duchy of Burgundy in January 1431 It was therefore conceived as an appropriately festive adornment to the occasion and would perhaps have been sung by the full complement of Philip the Good s chapel singers all of whom are named in its text though it is equally possible that as here it would have been sung by a group of soloists Either way Binchois would have been at the very centre of the performance as singer and surely also as director The child was to be baptized Antoine whence the association with the guardian figure of St Anthony Abbot and with St Anthony of Padua who as a further namesake is also addressed within the text The motet is based on a repeating isorhythmic tenor pattern which underpins the whole edifice serving to ground and structure the music across the dynamic shifts of metre that help to propel the composition through its three linked continuously unfolding sections Full performance of this work has hitherto been precluded by the absence of two voices from the first section These have now been reconstructed and it is in this newly completed form that the work is recorded here Its overall proportions are controlled by the segmentation and layout of the tenor melody Binchois s manipulation not only of the notes themselves and of their individual durations but also of their division into extended rhythmic groups separated by carefully planned and measured gaps sets up the whole temporal framework of the piece And in doing so he also sketches in the harmonic that is cadential background against which the polyphony is composed The fifteen pitches of this stretched cantus firmus are taken from the first part of the Kyrie in simplici die though quite why Binchois should have selected a Kyrie for this purpose remains a mystery But whatever his precise motivation may have been the musical pattern derived from the presumed chant original is miraculously well shaped and ideally suited to its structural and expressive function within the finished composition In the performing edition prepared for this recording the wordless motet tenor has been supplied with a short freely invented Latin dictum of fifteen syllables one to a note in praise of St Anthony Drawing on both the northern Franco Flemish and more importantly the English tradition of motet writing in contrast to the strongly Italianate character of most of Dufay s grand motet output at this period Nove cantum nevertheless goes beyond its models in adopting three part texture in place of the more usual duos for the polyphonic sections between the tenor entries This in itself would make the motet striking and original but Binchois s inventiveness goes further In the reduced voice sections which though melodically free are also controlled by isorhythm he writes music that in almost virtuosic defiance of the rhythmic schemes to which they are bound is fluid and propulsive and so provides a striking foil to the more solid even monumental cast of the full four voice sections structured around the sustained tenor notes This fundamental contrast serves to energize and drive the whole composition and shows how a skilled composer while working in a craftsmanlike way to fulfil his professional functions and tasks and drawing on the full range of received techniques and approaches available to him might arrive at artistic solutions of astonishing subtlety and complexity without obscuring the brilliant simplicity of the basic idea Domitor Hectoris is composed in a quite different style It falls into two sections and exhibits varied duo combinations between the three individual voices as well as the full trio texture The rise and fall of the vocal lines is handled with Binchois s customary fluency and intelligence and as in many of the songs the meditative plangency of the idiom is shot through with distinctive melodic and rhythmic features which allow the music to grow and intensify without undermining its essentially poetic and lyric mode of utterance The sense of sheer ease and flow is seductive but also to an extent deceptive The melodic contours are in fact delicately controlled and the music s trajectory carefully plotted yet without any sense of inappropriate rigour or constraint The same goes for the overall pacing and for the expressive points of arrival within the course of the piece which all seem quite effortless but are in fact beautifully and surely quite consciously judged All in all Binchois s subtle rhetorical expansion of the motet s lyric moment has been effected with a sense of naturalness that artfully conceals the mechanics of elaboration Indeed Binchois had no equal as a melodist in the fifteenth century and this is as apparent here as in his rondeaux and ballades The motet text is a subtly woven tissue of ideas and images elaborated around the concepts of the Cross and the Holy Lance and their symbolic place in the scheme of Christian redemption Though the theological and symbolic associations are complex and ramified the poem itself is lucidly expressed with a beautiful simplicity and concision and shows like Binchois s music an exquisite sense of expressive tact and decorum The three mass movements are also written in an essentially lyric idiom which while being notably concise nevertheless shows a clear sense of musical shape and contour as well as a liking for occasional harmonic twists and moments of melodic daring These details serve to give point and focus to the polyphony and endow it with a sense of eventfulness within its relatively short span The movements show a close functional and stylistic relationship to the workaday plainchant idiom with which every musician of the era would have been familiar and with which his whole sense of melodic profile would have been imbued But Binchois shows a special sensitivity to the ways in which polyphonic interval music of this kind can be made to subtly extend and intensify by harmonic means the aura that surrounds monophonic lines while still staying close to both the letter and the spirit of the chant melodies The Kyrie in simplici die in particular has a beautiful and beautifully simple chant found nowhere else except for the fragment used in Nove cantum melodie and which in its reconstructed alternatim form shows a clear musical growth through the series of nine invocations to the final extended polyphonic Kyrie eleison From their presentation in the manuscript sources where they are provided with the plainsong intonations heard here the Sanctus Agnus pair might well appear to be chant based too But unusually for Binchois in such movements they too lack a known chant model and in this case it is much less easy to decide whether or not the music does in fact refer to such a model though the intonations at least should in theory be traceable If in contrast to the exciting complexities of Nove cantum melodie and to the poise and flow of Domitor Hectoris these mass movements of their very nature tend to show us the succinct even aphoristic side of Binchois s art they are nevertheless expressive of an idiom which within its economy and concision also implies more than it states and thus is able to achieve an unobtrusive sophistication in even its simplest lyric utterances A note on St Anthony Abbot The two St Anthonys are often confused today and perhaps more surprisingly were sometimes invoked together also a potential source of confusion in the Middle Ages This doubtless occurred chiefly because of the kinship of their shared name Yet such kinship however arbitrary it might appear to us was highly valued throughout the medieval period and beyond For all social classes from peasants to princes the name saint was an important figure one frequently thought of as a kind of patron or guardian and certainly as a privileged interlocutor and advocate in the realm of prayer The affective bond linking an individual to his or her name saint was thus a precious even intimate one that was keenly felt And the observance of the name day in connection with the relevant saint s feast was to remain a standard mode of celebration and of formal ceremonial festivity throughout Catholic Europe right through into the early nineteenth century In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries particularly name day celebrations at princely courts would often have been the occasion for important musical events and special commissions including cantatas serenatas and even Metastasian operas And in general the appeal to particular saints was felt to be an integral part of daily life both public and private throughout this period something that moreover was expressed in a variety of ways both in art and in social practice Polyphonic pieces written for saints days or for special votive celebrations or even just for reasons of personal devotion were the late medieval and early Renaissance equivalent of such cultural expressions And both Dufay s mass if it is his and Binchois s motet fit into this pattern in their rather different ways the former being more liturgical the latter more ceremonial in emphasis But the figure of St Anthony is central to both St Anthony Abbot c251 356 was a man of many facets A holy man and a hermit he was perhaps the most famous of all the Egyptian desert fathers a seeker after truth and a lover of the sacred texts a contemplative who also taught and so attracted many disciples as well as religious tourists He was in fact an all round exponent of heroic virtue as the Middle Ages understood it As such it is perhaps not surprising that he should have become the spiritual forefather and figurehead of Western monasticism though he himself never founded an order His life is unusually well documented beginning with the famous first hand biography written by St Athanasius who had known him personally though this did not of course in any way preclude the accumulation of legends from early on But his period of great fame in the medieval West occurred only later after the supposed translation of his relics in the eleventh century via Alexandria and Constantinople to their eventual resting place at La Motte St Didier south east of Vienne where the Antonine order was later established The place is now known as Saint Antoine en Viennois or St Antoine l Abbaye in the department of the Isère it lies due south of Berlioz s birth place and is on the western fringes of the region around Grenoble which was Messiaen s spiritual home and where he spent most of his summer vacations composing The miraculous healing powers of the relics made of the shrine a place of great pilgrimage and this together with the charitable and curative activities of the Brothers Hospitallers who bore his name made him one of the most beloved and admired of saints He was generally depicted in the garb of the medieval order and in addition to sequences of images depicting scenes from his life the more colourful incidents such as the famous temptations in the desert offered visual artists great scope for vivid and striking effects famously Bosch and Bruegel the latter inspiring Flaubert and also Matthias Grünewald in parts of the great Isenheim altarpiece now in Colmar which inspired the great scene of visionary torment in Hindemith s Mathis der Maler But his primary significance to the Middle Ages was as a spiritual warrior who fought manfully as we are twice reminded in the Mass for St Anthony Abbot These words appear in the Vox de caelo text which is used for a short independent antiphon by Binchois as well as for the Alleluia and in part for the Offertory of the mass It was one of the best known verbal tags from the great fund of anecdotes about the saint both factual and legendary which survive in the various hagiographical and biographical sources It occupies a prominent place for instance in the hugely popular Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine one of the most widely copied of all medieval texts and one of the earliest books printed by Caxton Anthony of Padua c1193 1231 canonized 1232 on the other hand was a figure of medieval rather than late antique history He was born in Lisbon and was one of the most eminent personalities of the early Franciscan movement He was active as a missionary and this activity was linked with the development of his legendary skills as a preacher In pragmatic fashion he first began sermonizing the infidel and promulgating the virtues of the Christian gospel But after his fairly swift move to Italy he continued to preach with tremendous energy and drive seemingly all the time and everywhere even to the fishes as Mahler remembered in the Des Knaben Wunderhorn songs exhorting persuading and admonishing according to the needs and dictates of the occasion In later years he settled at Padua where his shrine was established and where the great basilica named in his honour which survives today was built The Missa Sancti Anthonii de Padua was probably composed around 1450 or slightly before the surviving version was copied in the mid 1450s according to Peter Wright s latest dating of its sources We learn from the composer s executors account that it had already been in use at Cambrai for the celebration of the saint s feast on 13 June for a considerable time prior to his death The will directs that the mass should be sung annually in his memory for the salvation of his own and others souls those close to him by ties of blood or friendship On the other hand the Vienne mass seems rather to have been an offering by Dufay to the singers chapel as a whole a broader gesture with more of a collective and indeed social intention in contrast to the highly personalized intention of the Padua mass They both however embody and express in their different ways the ethos as well as the sheer skill of the community of musicians who surely first sang them and continued to do so we may safely assume for several decades A note on anonymity authorship and attribution The medieval world was never so wholly given over to anonymity in art as historians have at times implied There are enough surviving artists signatures in manuscript illuminations and on portal sculptures or picture frames as well as evidence of careful attributions in at least some musical sources to

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  • Missa Puisque je vis & other works | The Binchois Consort
    almus Though known from Petrucci s 1504 collection Motetti C Concede nobis Domine the one non Marian work on this recording is clearly expressive of an earlier aesthetic It was probably composed in the 1470s or 80s around the same time as Salve maris stella which is found uniquely in the Verona manuscript 755 a source copied in the 1480s Whoever composed these striking works they are linked at least to contemporary ears by a sense of drive and formal coherence rare before Josquin Rather like the contemporary Venetian artistic strain dubbed by Berenson the Giorgionesque these motets seem at the very least to be linked by emulation of the style of one of the fifteenth century s great originals Both are presented here for the first time Concede nobis Domine with new words for its textless second half composed by Leofranc Holford Strevens The same transition from general veneration to specific plea for intercession that shaped the text of Omnium bonorum plena and so many other Marian motets also characterizes Salve maris stella The cryptic words of this motet pray for Mary s mediation on behalf of a true hero named as Charolus in the tenor and bass and Henricus in the top part whose plea to judge from references in the text has some association with the sea and safe maritime travel While the motet may have originated as a prayer for safe passage on a pilgrimage Rob Wegman has suggested to me a more specific possible scenario in the person of Henry Tudor the future Henry VII of England and the occasion of his invasion of England in 1485 Since Henry had been living in Brittany for some years his assault on his intended kingdom involved the crossing of the English Channel the putative source of the seafaring motifs in the text of the motet His ultimately successful venture ending in the death of Richard III on Bosworth Field was preceded by an abortive one two years previously when stormy seas had thwarted his attack as recounted by the contemporary chronicler Polydore Vergil I thank Professor Wegman for this material I have modernized the English Henry had prepared an army of 5 000 Bretons and furnished a navy of 15 ships which began to sail with prosperous wind the 6th ides of October in the year of health 1483 but a little before a sudden tempest arose with which he was so afflicted that his ships were constrained by force of a cruel gale of wind to turn their course to one way and another some of them were blown back into Normandy others into Brittany The ship in which Henry was with one other tossed all the night long with the waves came at the last very early in the morning when the wind grew calm upon the south coast of England from here Earl Henry viewing afar off all the shore beset with soldiers which King Richard had everywhere placed gave open commandment that not

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  • Missa Puisque je vis & other works | The Binchois Consort
    almus Though known from Petrucci s 1504 collection Motetti C Concede nobis Domine the one non Marian work on this recording is clearly expressive of an earlier aesthetic It was probably composed in the 1470s or 80s around the same time as Salve maris stella which is found uniquely in the Verona manuscript 755 a source copied in the 1480s Whoever composed these striking works they are linked at least to contemporary ears by a sense of drive and formal coherence rare before Josquin Rather like the contemporary Venetian artistic strain dubbed by Berenson the Giorgionesque these motets seem at the very least to be linked by emulation of the style of one of the fifteenth century s great originals Both are presented here for the first time Concede nobis Domine with new words for its textless second half composed by Leofranc Holford Strevens The same transition from general veneration to specific plea for intercession that shaped the text of Omnium bonorum plena and so many other Marian motets also characterizes Salve maris stella The cryptic words of this motet pray for Mary s mediation on behalf of a true hero named as Charolus in the tenor and bass and Henricus in the top part whose plea to judge from references in the text has some association with the sea and safe maritime travel While the motet may have originated as a prayer for safe passage on a pilgrimage Rob Wegman has suggested to me a more specific possible scenario in the person of Henry Tudor the future Henry VII of England and the occasion of his invasion of England in 1485 Since Henry had been living in Brittany for some years his assault on his intended kingdom involved the crossing of the English Channel the putative source of the seafaring motifs in the text of the motet His ultimately successful venture ending in the death of Richard III on Bosworth Field was preceded by an abortive one two years previously when stormy seas had thwarted his attack as recounted by the contemporary chronicler Polydore Vergil I thank Professor Wegman for this material I have modernized the English Henry had prepared an army of 5 000 Bretons and furnished a navy of 15 ships which began to sail with prosperous wind the 6th ides of October in the year of health 1483 but a little before a sudden tempest arose with which he was so afflicted that his ships were constrained by force of a cruel gale of wind to turn their course to one way and another some of them were blown back into Normandy others into Brittany The ship in which Henry was with one other tossed all the night long with the waves came at the last very early in the morning when the wind grew calm upon the south coast of England from here Earl Henry viewing afar off all the shore beset with soldiers which King Richard had everywhere placed gave open commandment that not

    Original URL path: http://www.binchoisconsort.com/product/missa-puisque-je-vis-other-works/?add_to_wishlist=3112 (2016-02-13)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Missa Puisque je vis & other works | The Binchois Consort
    almus Though known from Petrucci s 1504 collection Motetti C Concede nobis Domine the one non Marian work on this recording is clearly expressive of an earlier aesthetic It was probably composed in the 1470s or 80s around the same time as Salve maris stella which is found uniquely in the Verona manuscript 755 a source copied in the 1480s Whoever composed these striking works they are linked at least to contemporary ears by a sense of drive and formal coherence rare before Josquin Rather like the contemporary Venetian artistic strain dubbed by Berenson the Giorgionesque these motets seem at the very least to be linked by emulation of the style of one of the fifteenth century s great originals Both are presented here for the first time Concede nobis Domine with new words for its textless second half composed by Leofranc Holford Strevens The same transition from general veneration to specific plea for intercession that shaped the text of Omnium bonorum plena and so many other Marian motets also characterizes Salve maris stella The cryptic words of this motet pray for Mary s mediation on behalf of a true hero named as Charolus in the tenor and bass and Henricus in the top part whose plea to judge from references in the text has some association with the sea and safe maritime travel While the motet may have originated as a prayer for safe passage on a pilgrimage Rob Wegman has suggested to me a more specific possible scenario in the person of Henry Tudor the future Henry VII of England and the occasion of his invasion of England in 1485 Since Henry had been living in Brittany for some years his assault on his intended kingdom involved the crossing of the English Channel the putative source of the seafaring motifs in the text of the motet His ultimately successful venture ending in the death of Richard III on Bosworth Field was preceded by an abortive one two years previously when stormy seas had thwarted his attack as recounted by the contemporary chronicler Polydore Vergil I thank Professor Wegman for this material I have modernized the English Henry had prepared an army of 5 000 Bretons and furnished a navy of 15 ships which began to sail with prosperous wind the 6th ides of October in the year of health 1483 but a little before a sudden tempest arose with which he was so afflicted that his ships were constrained by force of a cruel gale of wind to turn their course to one way and another some of them were blown back into Normandy others into Brittany The ship in which Henry was with one other tossed all the night long with the waves came at the last very early in the morning when the wind grew calm upon the south coast of England from here Earl Henry viewing afar off all the shore beset with soldiers which King Richard had everywhere placed gave open commandment that not

    Original URL path: http://www.binchoisconsort.com/product/missa-puisque-je-vis-other-works/?add_to_wishlist=3172 (2016-02-13)
    Open archived version from archive



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