August 1, 2006


From Majesty to Contemplation to Mystery (FRED KIRSHNIT, August 1, 2006, NY Sun)

Renaissance Flemish master Josquin des Prez made one of the most important aesthetic breakthroughs in Western musical history.Although it is a bit simplistic to state that Josquin (his fame was so widespread that he became known by only one name, like Cher) invented the identification of the minor keys with the more dolorous emotions, his sensitive ear-to-heart connection broke the standardized Gregorian rules that had guided composition for a thousand years. And as a Catholic, his possessed profound influence in the Protestant church, especially since his most ardent exponent was a contemporary composer of hymns named Martin Luther.

The crowd at St. Bartholomew's Church Sunday enjoyed the work of this granddaddy of all Mass composers as part of the church's Summer Festival of Sacred Music, which offers a different setting of the Mass, from both sides of the Atlantic and from many eras, each week through September 17. Anyone willing to learn the rarely taught canon of religious music might want to consider spending Sunday mornings at this significant festival.

Josquin died in 1521 but his most famous setting, "Missa Pange Lingua," is actually based on a hymn celebrating the transubstantiation, composed in the 13th–century by St. Thomas Aquinas and traditionally performed on Holy Thursday. This musical building block, called the cantus firmus, derives from an ancient Roman legionnaire's marching song.

Music director William K. Trafka framed the Mass outstandingly.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 1, 2006 2:45 PM
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