CHRISTMAS AROUND EUROPE

6 pm, Saturday 1st December 2018

BREMF Consort of Voices, Deborah Roberts director

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£12. (£10 for retired, half price available, children 12 and under free)

Mince pies, mulled wine and fizz and other treats!


 

Continuing the theme of BREMF 2018, and following the ‘Reformation Remainers’ concert at the Festival, BREMF Consort of Voices take you on a tour around Europe with music for Advent and Christmas. We set off from England in Tudor times with two English Catholic (remainer!) composers writing music for the rite of Sarum – even before the Reformation and the split from Rome, we had our own different Catholic rituals and variations in chant melodies!

We then hop over the channel to the Low Countries (modern day Belgium), the birthplace of the most celebrated composer of the early Renaissance, Josquin des Prez. Praeter rerum has to be one of our all-time favourite works; a fabulous scoring with two rich bass lines, wonderfully competing alto lines, snippets of chant moving through the texture and a heart-melting ending. We move on into what is modern day Germany with two Advent pieces. Before you get too confused, it’s worth pointing out that national borders have always been flexible and renaissance Europe had a very different set-up from modern times, with constantly shifting alliances. What is now Germany, Austria and several other countries in central and eastern Europe, was then part of the Holy Roman Empire. It dated back to the time of Charlemagne and lasted until the time of Napoleon. But we return to England to end the first half of tonight’s programme with music by another rebellious Catholic ‘remainer’, William Byrd.

The second part opens with French music from the time of Henry VIII. Mouton was present at the summit meeting between the kings of England and France, known as the Field of the Cloth of Gold. It took place in 1520, in what was then the English-owned area around Calais in France. Henry brought over his own musicians from his Chapel Royal, and it is highly probable that some interesting discussions took place between Mouton and English composers such as William Cornysh.

A much longer journey – crossing the Alps – brings us to Italy and the Venetian music of Giovanni Bassano. Those of you who attended the festival concert given by The English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble, ‘Legal Aliens’, might remember that the Bassano family were also very active in England, and for several generations provided cornett and sackbut players for the court.

Back in a westerly direction, we arrive in Spain with the music of Morales, a composer who wrote very much in the style of the Franco-Flemish composers, while his countryman Victoria actually spent most of his life in Rome working at the German College – set up to send Catholic missionaries into Protestant ‘Germany’. Whizzing back East we turn up in what is now Slovenia, but which was another part of the Holy Roman Empire. Jacob Handl spent his life moving around the ‘empire’ working in Austria, Moravia, Bohemia and Silesia, but eventually settled in Prague, where he died. His name in German means ‘chicken’ and he also went by the Latin translation of his name, Gallus!

Before moving on to some Christmas carols for you all to sing, we will end with a quodlibet, meaning ‘whatever you want’. In this case it is a bringing together of three carols in one glorious medley.

Programme  
England    
Thomas Tallis c.1505–1585   O nata lux
Sarum Chant   Conditor alme siderum
John Sheppard c.1515–1558   Verbum caro
Belgium    
Josquin des Prez c.1450–1521   Praeter rerum seriem
Germany    
Hans Leo Hassler 1564-1612   Canite tuba
Michael Praetorius
1571-1621
  Rorate caeli
England    
William Byrd 1542-1623   Ecce Virgo
O magnum mysterium
I N T E R V A L    
France    
Jean Mouton 1459-1522   Nesciens mater
Italy    
Giovanni Bassano 1558-1617   Sancta et immaculata
Spain    
Cristóbal Morales c.1500-1553   Ecce virgo concipiet
Tomas Luis de Victoria c.1548–1611   O regem caeli
Slovenia    
Jacob Handl 1550–1591   Canite tuba
Germany    
Leonhard Paminger 1495–1567   Quodlibet: Omnis mundo /Resonet in laudibus/In dulci jubilo
Early Europe’s universal language – Latin!
Carols for audience   Veni Emmanuel
Quem pastores
Adeste fidelis