Arundel Choirbook Music
Chant - Pange Lingua
Josquin des Pres - Kyrie (Missa Pange Lingua)
Nicholas Ludford - Gloria (Missa Benedicta)
Josquin - Tu solus qui facis mirabilium
Cornysh - Ave Maria
Josquin - Mille Regrets
Cornysh - Woefully Arrayed
Josquin - Praeter rerum seriem
Fairfax - Maria Plena
Josquin - Credo (Mmissa Pange Lingua)
Josquin - Nymphes des bois (on the death of Ockehgem)
Cornysh - Ah Robin
Josquin - Sanctus and Benedictus (Missa Pange Lingua)
Ludford - Agnus Dei (Missa Benedicta)
This programme compares music from the early 16 th century in England with that of the greatest European contemporary Josquin des Pres. It is widely believed that while Continental European music underwent a dramatic change under the influence of Josquin - becoming clearer in texture and more austere in mood, English music continued to be highly complex right up until the new Anglican rite forced new rules concerning clarity of words. This over simplification loses sight of the great variety of styles that pervaded in England even after the establishment of the Church of England. The older, Catholic style with its dense web of sound and colour and rich harmonic language remained and re emerged several times over the course of a hundred years or more, even appearing in English texted works by 17 th century composers such as Thomas Weelkes and Thomas Tomkins. Equally, clearer, more homophonic music can be heard in the glorious pre Reformation music of composers such as Fairfax and Luford - both of whose music appears in the Arundel Choirbook. Neither of them wrote for the new Anglican rite and it is tempting to see the influenece of Josquin in the beautifuly constructed works of Fairfax, where dense polyphony often gives way to highly expressive word setting and text characterisation.
This year we mark the 450 th anniversary of Ludford's death. Seemingly a quiet and reserved man during his life, he never achieved the fame of his contemporary, Fairfax, and he has remained relatively obscure since. While his music if more complex and conservative than his more illustrious contemporary, there are some startling moments of modernity particularly in the passages for reduced voices that occur in the missa Benedicta, which seem almost to predict 'baroque' textures!
Although he was a Catholic, Josquin des Pres was Luther's favourite composer. His music transcends the dogma of religious and political division and speaks directly to our sense of wonder and awe. By mixing these composers together we have created a mass setting that crosses more than the Chanel or the boundaries of 16 th century religious unheavals. It speaks of our wondrous links with the whole universe and all that is best in being human.