Information about his early years is scanty, although some uncorroborated stories have survived, the most famous of which is that he was kidnapped three times because of the singular beauty of his singing voice. He then worked as a singer and a composer for Costantino Castrioto in Naples in the early s, and his first works are presumed to date from this time. However, he stayed there for only a year. Palestrina would assume this post a year later, in No solid evidence survives for his whereabouts in , but there are contemporary claims that he traveled in France and England.
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Total duration: 70 minutes 4 seconds During the last twenty years of his life, Orlande de Lassus was the most celebrated composer in Europe. The first group considered the death of Christ: second, the death of a christian.
In this he outstripped the other musical giants of the day, Palestrina, Victoria, and Byrd. The first group considers the death of Christ; the second, the death of the Christian. The Lamentations were eventually incorporated into the Christian liturgies of Holy Week.
Three passages from the Lamentations were read as part of the office of Matins or Tenebrae on each of the three days leading up to Easter, the Triduum sacrum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. These passages were sung to a more elaborate recitation tone than that usually used for Biblical lections.
This special musical treatment led to the many polyphonic settings of the Lamentations that appeared in the sixteenth century. Lassus himself wrote two. This recording includes the three readings from Lamentations assigned to Maundy Thursday in his five-voice version, published in Tracks The Lamentations are acrostic poems arranged according to the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
This structure was acknowledged in the Latin liturgy, with each verse preceded by its Hebrew letter Aleph, Beth, Ghimel, etc. Lassus was most famous as a composer of madrigals—vernacular songs of love, sorrow, battle, and wine. Lassus has the word sola solitary sung by an austere duet, with each voice often heard by itself. At plena full , however, the rest of the choir returns in a dramatic simultaneous entry. Some of the wordplay, however, might only have been noticed by trained singers. Here, Lassus has the baritones and basses sing the word requiem rest to the plainsong melody of the Introit of the Mass of the Dead, Requiem aeternam.
This may be heard later on this recording at the beginning of Track 6. Like the Psalms, they may be read in the vox Christi, the voice of Christ. A responsory is a chan sung after a reading, giving the congregation the opportunity to react to what it has just heard. Unlike the Lamentations, which were sung only once each year, the Mass for the Dead, sometimes called the Requiem Mass, was frequently recited in the Latin liturgy.
The development of the doctrine of Purgatory during the Middle Ages led to the recitation of the Requiem Mass not just at funerals but as a daily act of intercession on behalf of all the faithful departed. The living were therefore keen to make provision for their souls after death, and could endow a chantry priest to recite daily masses for their benefit.
Even when the Requiem Mass was recited at a funeral, its prayers and chants still referred to the dead in the plural. The Mass heard on this recording—one of three Requiems by Lassus, this fourvoice setting having been published in —is not a parody Mass. Lassus drew instead on the traditional plainsong melodies that for centuries had adorned the Requiem.
The Introit Track 6 comes closest to being a cantus firmus composition. The chant is carried in long notes by the second-highest voice, with the other voices in counterpoint around it. In the other chant-based movements—the Gradual, the Offertory, and the Communion—each grammatical phrase of the text is sung to the first few notes of the chant, enough to catch the ear of a trained court musician.
Somewhat remarkably, Lassus included the notes for the solo intonation of each movement in the published scores; composers normally assumed the soloist would sing the chant from memory. In writing them out, Lassus required these intonations to be sung by a bass at an unusually low pitch. He did so again in his five-voice Requiem of , which suggests that this was an important part of how Lassus thought the Mass for the Dead should be sung.
This Requiem has the character of a Missa brevis, and may have been performed frequently as an intercession in the ducal chapel, rather than for important funerals. This simplicity nevertheless has a theological dimension as a representation of the peace of heaven, a quality most evident in the Communion Track Lassus did not provide polyphonic settings of two chants: the Sequence, Dies irae, and the Tract, Absolve, Domine.
The traditional plainsong melody of the Tract is heard on this recording outside its proper liturgical position, serving here to mark the division between the two main sections of the programme Track 5.
Lassus wrote the dedication to the completed work on 24 May , and died three weeks later. In this motet, Lassus displays his unrivalled mastery of counterpoint, manipulating the seven voices effortlessly to produce the expressive rhetorical effects so admired by his contemporaries. Jesse D.
Lassus: Hieremiae Prophetae Lamentationes
Orlande de Lassus