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Voices of Music uploads more videos from their Christmas Vespers concert

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Exactly one month ago I wrote about two uploads to the Voices of Music YouTube channel taken from a reconstruction of a Christmas Vespers service that might have been held in St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice in the year 1630. Those videos were recorded during the December concert that Voices of Music gave in San Francisco featuring sopranos Laura Heimes and Jennifer Ellis Kampani and baritone John Taylor Ward. The instrumentalists were violinists Carla Moore and Elizabeth Blumenstock and violist Lisa Grodin with a continuo provided by William Skeen on gamba, David Tayler on archlute, and Hanneke van Proosdji on organ.

Since that time Tayler has been hard at work preparing more videos from this most impressive example of historical musicology put into practice. Three more videos are now available:

  1. The opening “Deus, in adiutorium meum intende” (make haste, O God, to deliver me) was performed as a polyphonic improvisation on a simple set of chords, a practice known as “falsobordone,” which can be roughly translated as “improvised chorus.” This particular performance was based on the chords from Luca Marenzio’s “Io piango” (I cry). The melisma for the Alleluia that concludes the doxology is then taken from Claudio Monteverdi’s chaconne madrigal “Zefiro torna” (return, O Zephyr) with the addition of a third vocal part in invertible counterpoint.
  2. The music for all of the Psalm settings for this service were by Alessandro Grandi, who had served as vice maestro di cappella under Monteverdi at St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. Grandi’s setting of the first of these Psalms, “Dixit Dominus” (Psalm 109), has now been uploaded. The setting is for all three vocalists and continuo.
  3. The final selection is a setting of the hymn “Puer natus” (a child is born) as a soprano duet. Once again, music from a Monteverdi madrigal, “Chiome d’oro” (golden tresses), was appropriated. However, rather than setting Monteverdi’s duet to a single word, it is reworked for an entire sacred text in Latin, a practice known as “contrafactum,” the practice of making a new song by setting it against the source of an older one. This particular contrafactum was made by Lawrence Rosenwald.

In addition, Tayler has uploaded the first two videos from last month’s Saturday Night at the Movies Voices of Music concert, so named because Voices of Music invited two of their “neighbor” early music ensembles to share the use of Tayler’s high-definition video equipment. The new videos, however, are Voices of Music members, performances of two lute songs by Phoebe Jevtovic Rosquist accompanied by Tayler on archlute. The first of these is “Amarilli mia bella” (my beautiful Amaryllis) from the 1602 Nuove Musiche collection of Giulio Caccini; and the second is John Dowland’s “Flow my tears.”

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