Sacred Lassus II: Canciones Sacrae

Program: #09-14   Air Date: Mar 30, 2009

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The Cantiones Sacrae are the swansong of one of the masters of the motet, crowning his life’s work. In them Orlandus Lassus deploys with sovereign ease the essence of his art, which distinguishes him from, say, his contemporary Palestrina: the complex technique of vocal polyphony is employed in order to espouse the nuances of the text as closely as possible. In other words, here we have the ideal balance between ‘head’ and ‘heart’, the recurrent feature of most of the greatest masterpieces.

We begin a six-part series in collaboration with the Belgian Tourist Office and the Embassy of Belgium in Washington, D.C., including Belgian performers and composers.For information, you may go to:

Sacred Lassus II: Cantiones Sacrae sex vocum (Graz, 1594)

From The Guardian, 11/21/08:

ROLAND DE LASSUS (1532 -1594)

The Cantiones Sacrae was Orlando di Lasso's last collection of motets, published in the year of his death, 1594. Lassus (as he was also known) claimed these 14 settings were more austere, "tauter and more powerful", than those he had composed before. But while the subject matter of some motets is sombre - one is a meditation on growing old, another on life's vanities, while the last sets part of the Dies Irae from the Requiem Mass - others are much more upbeat, including a hymn in praise of drinking. Above all, though, these are magnificent examples of Lassus's polyphonic art, his use of imitative counterpoint and his ability to weave it into imposing blocks of sound, or to fuse the voices (generally in six parts) into a single chordal texture. It is wonderfully varied, transcendentally beautiful music that Philippe Herreweghe and his 16 singers deliver with perfect poise and balance. The recording was made in a chapel in Ghent, which has exactly the right resonance, so the contrapuntal detail is never obscured. --Andrew Clements

NOTE: All of the music on this program is by the Collegium Vocale Gent directed by Philippe Herreweghe. The CD is on Harmonia Mundi, and is HMC 901984.

--Nectar et ambrosiam ("The desire and love of peace")

--Prolongati sunt dies mei ("My days have been prolonged in thy service, O Lord")

--Deficiat in dolore vita mea ("My life is spent with grief")

--Qui timet Deum ("He that feareth God will do good")

--Ego cognovi quod erit bonum (I know that it shall be well with them that fear God")

--Respicit Dominus vias hominis ("For the ways of man are before the eyes of God")

--Timor Domini principium sapientiae ("The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge")

--Ad Dominum cum tribularer ("In my distress I cried unto the Lord")

--Vidi calumnias quae sub sole gerentur ("So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun")

--Beatus homo ("Blessed is the man to whom it is given to have the fear of God")

--Cantabant canticum Moysi ("And they sang the song of Moses")

--Quam bonus Israel Deus ("Truly God is good to Israel")

--Diligam te, Domine ("I will love Thee, o lord, my strength")

--Recordare Jesu pie ("Remember, Holy Jesus, that I am the cause of your suffering")

Composer Info

ROLAND DE LASSUS (1532 -1594)

CD Info

HMC 901984

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