O beata infantia! Christmas in the footsteps of Josquin
The Renaissance Singers presents a programme of meditative, awestruck and joyful music for the festive season, focusing on the infant Jesus and his mother. This recital showcases two unjustly neglected masters of the expressive, flowing style of imitative polyphony that was perfected by generations of Franco-Flemish musicians during the 16th century, following the trail blazed by Josquin, and which was sought after in every European court and cathedral.
The music of Loyset Piéton (fl.c.1530-45) survives mostly in Italian sources but was copied and performed across Western Europe. His Christmas antiphon, O beata infantia, is a masterclass in emotive, lyrical writing. Géry de Ghersem (c.1573-1630) is even more obscure, yet this Tournai-born musician held exalted positions at the courts of Madrid and Brussels. Tragically, all but one of his works were destroyed in the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. What survives is a corker of a Mass, based on the most celebrated Marian motet by Francisco Guerrero, Ave Virgo Sanctissima.
While many Flemish composers used Guerrero’s masterpiece as the inspiration for new music; Ghersem takes his tribute to the next level, expanding the five part texture to seven voices and adding complexity, so that the Mass becomes a scintillating fantasia on its source material.
Guerrero (1528-99) was called by contemporaries ‘el cantor de Maria’; his music for Mary has a special fervency and dignity. Along with his masterpiece motet, Ave Virgo Sanctissima, this evening of musical discoveries and revelations will be topped off with other works by the Spanish master, both motets for the Virgin and lighter villancicos in Spanish. Feliz navidad!
Booking: tickets will be available in advance from https://www.renaissancesingers.com.