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Philippe Herreweghe and his Collegium Vocale Gent present their third project for Phi focussing on vocal music of the Renaissance. This time, it is the English composer William Byrd (c.1540-1623) who is being honoured. The title of the programme is that of Byrd’s motet Infelix ego, one of the greatest artistic statements of the 16th century. Its text is a meditation on Psalm 50, written by the Dominica Girolamo Savonarola, a remarkable man who waged a campaign against the corrupt Medici family in Florence.
Taking the form of several rhetorical questions and assertions, the text describes all the emotions felt by a tormented soul: guilt, fear, embarrassment, anger but above all the gift of deliverance upon acceptance of Christ’s mercy. Byrd seems to have felt a powerful emotional connection with the words.
The Collegium Vocale Gent also presents the Mass for 5 Voices and a selection of motets by Byrd, along with Alfonso Ferrabosco’s Peccantem me quotidie a5 and Philippus de Monte’s Miserere mei a5.
William Byrd: Emendemus in melius
Emendemus in melius
William Byrd: Liber secundus sacrarum cantionum (Cantiones sacrae)
William Byrd: Gradualia, Book 1
Gradualia, Book 1: Ave Maria
William Byrd: Peccantem me quotidie
Peccantem me quotidie
William Byrd: Mass a 5
William Byrd: Christe, qui lux es et dies
Christe, qui lux es et dies
Liber secundus sacrarum cantionum (Cantiones sacrae)
Miserere mei, Deus
“Byrd's repertory is familiar largely through English recordings. Departing radically from that tradition, Philippe Herreweghe renews the power of Byrd's masterpieces with sensual, intimate, moving, and very un-English performances...Instead of each part robustly pressing forward, the Collegium Vocale Gent lets lines delicately unfold; rhetoric, not architecture, is the focus.”
30th November 2014
“this intimate account of his wonderful five-part mass is appropriate and, as conjured up by Philippe Herreweghe’s direction, quite different from the usual English choral style. The 12 singers are flexible, gentle and expressive, rising to sustained power in the rich Agnus Dei.”