Secret History

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Program: #17-39   Air Date: Sep 18, 2017

John Potter guides us through his latest project on ECM: Josquin and Victoria from a very different perspective.


NOTE: All of the music on this program is from the recording John Potter—Secret History: Josquin/Victoria on the ECM label (ECM New Series 2119). John Potter joins us to discuss the recording.

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Tomas Luis de Victoria and Josquin Desprez were not contemporaries, they lived and worked in different countries, and perhaps shared little in terms of abstract compositional style. Yet throughout Europe, generations of musicians recognized them as kindred spirits, and tablature versions of their masses and motets circulated amongst lutenists. For John Potter, this is “the secret life of the music – in historical terms its real life.” In this characteristically creative project Potter - joined by Trio Mediaeval singer Anna Maria Friman and three outstanding vihuela players - explores “what happens to music after it is composed.” The album, produced by Manfred Eicher, was recorded at the St Gerold monastery in the Austrian mountains, where Potter previously contributed to Officium and other recordings with the Hilliard Ensemble and with The Dowland Project.

From The Guardian: The tenor John Potter, formerly of Red Byrd, the Hilliard and other ensembles at the less fusty end of early music, is the driving force of this recording. About half of it is taken up with Victoria’s Surge Propera mass – and instead of a full choir filling the corners of a lofty cathedral we get Potter, solo, with Jacob Heringman filling in the remaining lines on the vihuela, an instrument that is the missing link between lute and guitar. This is the secret of the title: that the choral works of four and five centuries ago were seen at the time not as fixed monuments but as music ripe for adaptation as intimate chamber pieces. Anna Maria Friman lends her pure soprano to some of Josquin’s motets, reworked as vocal duets, and the linking passages of chant or of solo vihuela give this pared-back disc a flowing, almost improvisatory feel.

Jean Mouton: Nesciens mater

Jacob Heringman: Prelude I

Tomas Luis de Victoria: Kyrie (from Missa Surge Propera)

Heringman: Prelude II

Victoria: Gloria (from Missa Surge Propera)

Heringman: Prelude III

Victoria: Credo (from Missa Surge Propera)

Heringman: Prelude IV

Victoria: Sanctus (from Missa Surge Propera)

Benedictus (from Missa Surge Propera)

Heringman: Prelude V

Victoria: Agnus Dei (from Missa Surge Propera)

Anonymous: Inviolata (chant)

Josquin Desprez: Inviolata

Josquin: Absalon, fili mi

Anonymous: Obsecro te (chant)

Josquin:: Obsecro te

Josquin: Salve regina

Anonymous: Benedicta es (chant)

Josquin: Benedicta es

Josquin: Nymphes de Bois

Victoria: O magnum mysterium

Composer Info

Jean Mouton, Jacob Heringman, Tomas Luis de Victoria, Josquin Desprez

CD Info

ECM New Series 2119