Three Medieval Studies

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Program: #16-31   Air Date: Jul 25, 2016

The latest from Discantus, the superb Schola Gregoriana from Prague, and a breathtaking recording from the German/Iraqi ensemble Sanstierce.

 I. Santa Maria—Songs to the Virgin in 13th Century Spain (Discantus/Brigitte Lesne). Bayard Musique CD 308. 489.2.

 Santa Maria
 Discantus is a 6 to 9 voices ensemble, founded in the early nineties, that mainly relives sacred music from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.

Since its inception, it is placed under the direction of Brigitte Lesne who fully conceives programs, often with the help of musicologist Marie-Noël Colette. These are always the fruit of an original work of thematic research, using new musical transcriptions prepared for the occasion and performed directly from the manuscript sources.

Discantus meets a core of singers specialized in early music, musically flexible and able to adapt to each new project. Each singer holds a voice signature with an identifiable stamp - the opposite to any stereotype - and is also able to blend into a whole, whose immediately recognizable sound was formed over the years.

Discantus concentrated at first on the monodies and the polyphonies of the ars antiqua, the Aquitanian School and the Notre-Dame de Paris School, 11st-13th centuries, while resting on the peculiar style of the Gregorian chant: work of the melodic line, the recitation, psalmodic chant, the rhythm and the ornamentation according to the oldest manuscripts of 9th-10th centuries. This work also leans on an innermost sense of the modality, for which the practice of the Gregorian chant is an inexhaustible source.

The musical repertoires and their performance in concert have gradually expanded over new stage experiences and collaborations undertaken from the 2000s, experiences that develop even more today:
- Collaboration with childrens choirs or small female vocal ensemble, allowing the alternation of soloists parts and a "schola",
- Collaboration with organists
- Partnership with Alla Francesca to a formal relationship between medieval sacred and secular music, vocal and instrumental,
- Acquisition of a set of hand bells, played by singers like "human carillon", that became like a signature sound of the ensemble,
- Work with actors or narrator: relations between literature and medieval music,
- Advanced times with 3-parts polyphonies of 14th-15th centuries until the beginning of the Renaissance (music that benefit the knowledge acquired by Discantus in older repertories),
- Original works commissionned to composers,
- Links from medieval music to traditional songs of pilgrims
- The use of typical stringed instruments (fiddle, rote, chifonie ...) played by the singers themselves ...

01. Ave regina celorum [1:42]
Antienne mariale - Anonymus

02. CSM 300. Muito deveria orne sempr' a loar [4:21]
TUTTI / vièle, chifonie, psalterion
03. CSM 79. Ay, Santa Maria [4:38]
CB / rote, psalterion
04 CSM 421. Nenbre-sse-te, Madré de Deus [2:09]
TUTTI / cloches
05. Recordare, virgo mater - Ab hac familia [2:46]
Offertoire et prosule, codex Las Huelgas - Anonymus

06. CSM 71. Par Deus, tal Sennor muito val [3:58]
CM / rote, vièle
07. CSM 74. Quen Santa Maria quiser defender [4:56]
LJ / vièle, tambourin, grelots, coquilles
08. Guiraut RIQUIER: Humils, forfaitz, repres e penedens [4:46]
Chanson mariale
CS / vièle
09. ALFONSO X: CSM 253. De grad' â Santa Maria mercee e piadade [5:42]
VB / chifonie, grelots
10. Salve regina, mater misericordie [3:01]
Antienne mariale - Anonymus
11. Salve regina glorie [2:56]
Prose, codex Las Huelgas (instrumental) - Anonymus
vièle, rote, cloches
12. Folquet De LUNEL: Dompna bona, bel' e plazens [4:36]
Chanson mariale, Mélodie de Guiraut RIQUIER
BL / vièle
13. Alma redemptoris mater [2:09]
Antienne mariale - Anonymus
14. Alma redemptoris mater - Ave regina celorum - [Alma] [1:13]
Motet, codex Las Huelgas - Anonymus
TUTTI / cloches
15. ALFONSO X: CSM 202. Muito â Santa Maria [4:20]
HD / cloches, tambourin
16. Adam De SAINT-VICTOR: Salve mater salvatoris [4:10]
17. Serena virginum / [Manere] [3:02]
Conduit-motet, manuscrit de Madrid - Anonymus 


II. Carolus IV (Schola Gregoriana Pragensis/Hana Blažíková). Supraphon SU 4193-2.

 Carolus IV
 During the reign of Charles IV the Czech Lands experienced a period of unprecedented cultural flowering. An astonishing wealth of art and architecture originated while the region was under Charles’s rule. An equally important although less ‘palpable’ was the blossoming in the field of music. During Charles’s reign St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague developed into the most prestigious centre of spiritual life in the country. The ceremonies held there were becoming increasingly magnificent and embraced a number of “modern” theatrical elements, exploring the architectural layout of the church. Besides monodic liturgical chant, other kinds of music, like polyphony and secular music, were gaining more and more importance. One of the sources of new impulses for these developments was no doubt the Prague university. This project attempts to illustrate the “multi-layered” quality of music in the period and offers a colourful mosaic of repertoires which are closely related to the person of Charles IV or to his rule.   

I Charles and France
1 Cantio Plebs Domini
2 Alleluia Virga Iesse floruit
3 Sequentia Ave virgo singularis
4 Guillaume de Machaut (1300—1377):
Dame je sui cilz qui vueil – Fins cuers doulz

II Charles and Relics – Holy Lance and Nails
5 Antiphona In splendore
6 Hymnus Pange lingua
7 Lectio de homilia beati Augustini
8 Responsorium Vibrans miles

III Charles and the University
9 Cantio Salve mundi Domina
10 Virelai Je languis
11 Cantio Rubus incombustibilis
12 Cantio Prima declinatio
13 Virelai Sois tart

IV Charles and Courtly Poetry
14 Mülich von Prag: Nu siht man aber beide
15 Otep myrhy
16 Anjelíku rozkochaný
17 Dřěvo sě listem odievá

V Charles and Slavonic Liturgy 
18 Lectio in festo s. Cyrilli et s. Methodii
19 Alleluia Veselite se

VI Charles and the Worship of Saints
20 St. Charlemagne: Responsorium Letare pia Aquensis ecclesia
21 Stola Jacob
22 St. Wenceslas: Svatý Václave
23 St. Wenceslas: Antiphona Laus alme sit Trinitati
24 Quae est ista
25 St. Sigismundus: Responsorium Ecce Sigismundus
26 Motetus Ave coronata  

III. Nostre Dame (Sanstierce). Talanton CD TAL 90016.

At the Council of Ephesus in 431 CE, the doctrine of Mary as the Mother of God was elevated to dogma, laying the foundation for the adoration of the Virgin Mary. In Asia Minor, the female goddess Artemis, the virgin goddess of hunting, the forest, and the moon, had been venerated since ancient times in Greek mythology. The ruins of Ephesus are today found near Selçuk, Turkey, approximately 70 km south of Izmir on the Aegean Sea.

In the first centuries of Christianity, Mary was venerated in the form of a female figure with her arms raised toward heaven. Only with the incipient Middle Ages did she receive the form of the Mother of God. In the period around 1000, the image of Mary solidified and, in the few preserved pieces of gold work from the Ottonic period, the Madonna with the child (for example, the Golden Madonna in Essen, Germany) appeared not only as the Birth Giver of God, but also as the Ruler of Heaven – removed from any tangible materiality and devoid of all gravity. From this detached depiction of otherworldliness, the image of the Virgin Mary of the French cathedrals emerged during the course of the 13th century and moved closer to the world, nearer to the human beings. During this period, the impressive pietá statues were created, and also the music of our program stems from this time.

Mary, the Mother of Jesus, also occupies an unusual special place in Islam: a whole surah, no. 19, even bears her name. There it is reported how she bore a son by the name of Isa bin Maryam (Jesus, Son of Mary) under a palm. Surah 21, which originates from the same time, reports of the virgin birth: “And her who guarded her chastity, so We breathed into her Our spirit, and made her and her son a sign for all the nations” (21:91). The Muslims venerate Jesus as the last prophet before Mohammad, and therefore Mary enjoys special esteem. She is considered one of the “best women,” alongside Khadijah, Mohammad’s first wife, and Fatimah, his daughter.

In the New Testament and in the Koran, we encounter the figure of Mary in very similar descriptions, yet in spite of many correspondences, one should not overlook the differences between the two religious texts: in the Bible, Mary receives central importance through the role of her son as God’s Son: Mary as the Mother of God – the concept of the Son of God and his Mother of God is entirely foreign to Islam.

Only in a few passages and only marginally does the Mother of God appear in the Gospels of the New Testament. In the Koran, she is the only woman to be mentioned by name. It fascinates me that there exists, with Meryemana (House of the Virgin Mary) in Turkey, an Islamic Marian shrine that also attracts Christian pilgrims – including three popes in the 20th century alone. Here the Muslims venerate the mother of the prophet Isa bin Maryam, and Christians their Mother of God: Nostre Dame – مريم العذراء – Maryam al adhraa. 

About Sanstierce:
Three musicians met in 2014 in the Cologne Center for Early Music (ZAMUS) and decided to found an ensemble: SANSTIERCE (بلا بعداً ثلاثياً) – Maria Jonas, voice (Cologne), Dominik Schneider, flute and quinterna (Essen), and Bassem Hawar, djoze (Baghdad, meanwhile resident in Cologne). All three are renowned specialists in modal music. The two German musicians attempt to bring to life again the for the most part orally transmitted music of the Middle Ages, a music that was hardly ever written down, and the Iraqi’s desire is to prevent the Arabian music – with its center in Baghdad and roots in the Middle Ages – which up to now had been passed on from generation to generation, from ear to ear, from dying out. While even just a few years ago, western musicians traveled to Arabian countries in order to be close to the original, today one meets in Cologne, or Berlin, or Paris, or London. But no longer in Baghdad, in Iraq, Iran, in Syria …
 Beata Viscera Marie Virginis – 

Gargouille De Notre Dame (instr.) – 

 Sequentia De Beata Maria: Ave Gloriosa Virginum Regina – 

Djozz (instr.) – 

 Rondellus: O Summi Regis Mater Inclita – Sol Oritur – V

anitas Vanitatum (instr.) – 

Salva Nos, Stella Maris –

 Lami (instr.) –

 Salve Mater Salvatoris

Composer Info

Guillaume de Machaut (1300—1377)

CD Info

Bayard Musique CD 308. 489.2, Supraphon SU 4193-2, Talanton CD TAL 90016