UR PASTOR in the 1990s once said to me: “Jeff, I appreciate best those passages of Sacred Scripture with which I am most familiar.” Music is the same: we often most enjoy melodies that we’ve heard before, at least a few times. For this reason, great composers like Tomás Luis de Victoria (d. 1611)—who was a Catholic priest, just like Cristóbal de Morales—frequently based their Mass settings on tunes familiar to the congregation. However, the primary reason it was chosen to be sung at Symposium 2018 is its marvelous counterpoint.
Can you hear how he employs melodies from Ave Maris Stella hymn?
REHEARSAL VIDEOS for each individual voice and PDF score await you at #88751.
REHEARSAL VIDEOS for each individual voice and PDF score await you at #88749.
A FEW WEEKS AGO, we released the KYRIE from this Mass, and soon we’ll follow suit with the GLORIA. This Mass by Victoria was first published in 1576—meaning Fr. Victoria was still his twenties. The following is how Dr. Robert Stevenson, a great musicologist, compared Victoria’s setting to the Missa Ave Maris Stella of Fr. Morales:
ICTORIA—still in his twenties—shows none of the elder master’s adroitness at inventing original motifs that can recur as counterpoints to the plainsong hymn in such different movements as the “Patrem omnipotentem” and the “Et in Spiritum Sanctum”—or, over a still larger arch: in KYRIE I, the SANCTUS, and AGNUS DEI I. Morales’s great architectural gifts, displayed in this Mass and elsewhere, justly entitle him to comparison with Juan de Herrera; and it was just this talent that enabled him in his much longer Mass to unify disparate age-groups of masonry into a convincing and harmonious whole.
Victoria, who always chose to work on a smaller scale, did succeed, however, in leaving a much more genial and affable impression with his Mass. The very transposition of the hymn up a fourth throws the vocal quartet into lighter and brighter registers. His unwillingness to commit himself to any single technique, paraphrase or cantus firmus, also prevents his manner from ever becoming tedious. A comparison of the number of printed accidentals is not so conclusive as it may seem—Victoria having been the first Spanish composer to specify all, or nearly all, his required accidentals. But for what it’s worth, Victoria’s KYRIE movements contain eight or nine more accidentals than are to be found in the whole of Morales’s Mass. Above all, his harmonies can always be analyzed in a modern G-minor sense, whatever the key signature; whereas Morales’s harmonies, no matter how much ficta is applied, remain irretrievably modal in his Ave maris stella.
In conclusion, I must tell you a secret: Some readers won’t click those links above, and thereby forfeit the magnificent rehearsal videos for each individual voice. They’ll also avoid the special PDF scores which contain Solfège. This makes me sad.