Missa Alleluia. Muziek aan het Bourgondische hof
Capilla Flamenca · Cantate Domino

Eufoda 1232

1. Salve regina  [11:28]

Petrus de LA RUE. Missa Alleluia
2. Kyrie  [3:34]
3. Gloria  [4:35]

4.. Gaude virgo  [3:25]

Petrus de LA RUE. Missa Alleluia
5. Credo  [7:30]

6. Huc me sidero  [7:20]

Petrus de LA RUE. Missa Alleluia
7. Sanctus  [7:56]
8. Agnus dei  [6:53]

Matthaeus PIPELARE
9. Memorare, Mater Christi ~ Nunca fue pena mayor  [7:18]

SUPERIUS: Tom de Man, Steven Vanmol, Erik Buys, Stefaan de Winter
ALTUS: Jan Caals, Jan van Elsacker
BARITON: Lieven Termont, Ian Degen
BAS: Dirk Snellings, Paul Mertens

superius: knapen afkomstig uit het koor Cantate Domino
van het St.-Maarteninstituut te Aalst
en voorbereid door EH Michaël Ghijs.

Opname: Kapel van het Iers College, Leuven
Chapel of the Irish College, Leuven
Digitale opname en montage: Paul Beelaerts
Artistieke leiding: Jo Cops
© 1996 Davidsfonds/Eufoda, Blijde-Inkomststraat 79, B-3000 Leuven

Transcripties en toelichtingen bij Latijnse teksten: Andries Welkenhuysen
Advies alteraties: Joep van Buchem
Leiding en musicologisch advies: Dirk Snellings, Eugeen Schreurs
Grafische vormgeving: Daniël Peetermans
Coverillustratie: Stefan Lochner, Driekoningentriptiek: Annunciatie (detail),
Keulen, Dom, (foto: Joachim Blauel - Artothek)
Pag. 40: Koorboek van Margaretha van Oostenrijk, fol. 1,
Mechelen, stadsarchief

In 1496 Philip the Fair, son of Maximilian of Austria and grandson of the illustrious Burgundian duke Charles the Bold, married Joanna of Castile. This marriage created an empire ‘where the sun never set’ and which emperor-to-be Charles V inherited after the death of his father who, like his ancestors, had a particular liking for music. The same was true for Margaret of Austria, Regent of the Netherlands and Philip the Fair's sister, who also loved to hear musical performances of a high standard.

Petrus Alamire, in his day a famous scribe and diplomat, produced, together with his colleagues, numerous impressive and valuable music manuscripts for the Burgundian court and these were often used as royal presents. In 1503, for example, he copied ‘ung grant libre de musicke’ for Philip the Fair. Later he entered the service of Margaret of Austria and Archduke Charles who was to become Charles V. For them too he continued to produce brilliant manuscripts which meant that much excellent music became known at many pre-eminent European courts and that the Burgundian-Habsburg court chapel enjoyed a hitherto unheard-of fame. The polyphonic works on the present CD all feature in manuscripts that were produced by Alamire.

The central piece in this recording is the monumental five part Missa Alleluia by Margaret's court composer Pierre de la Rue. One of today's sources for this work is MS 773 in the library of the Monastery at Montserrat. It is possible that this manuscript was sent to Charles V in Spain during the 1520s. It contains important parts of this mass, but for the reconstruction of the whole mass it was also necessary to consult the Choirbook of Margaret of Austria, which is still kept in the town archives of Mechelen. The manuscript was probably commissioned in 1515- 1516 by Maximilian for the coming of age of Archduke Charles and it was later acquired by Margaret of Austria. It is clear that this mass was known at several important European courts with which the Burgundian-Habsburg courts in Brussels and Mechelen entertained excellent relations, for there are still copies in libraries at Jena (Court Chapel of the Elector Frederick the Wise of Saxony who resided in Wittenberg), in Rome (Papal Chapel) and Vienna (Maximilian's Habsburg Court Chapel).

The mass is based on an ‘Alleluia’ melody which has so far not been identified, but which features in each section. In the various sections complicated canon techniques were applied, such as augmentation (under the motto ‘Crescit in duplo’ the cantus firmus is performed in halved note values) and retrograde (performing the melody backwards, under the motto ‘Vade retro Sathanas’). This work is full of hidden symbolism - the canon techniques, ‘musica ficta’, miniatures that illuminate the work - which can be appreciated particularly by the performing musicians. By using a single cantus firmus in this mass and the application (although limited) of a head-motif, de la Rue has succeeded in creating a certain uniformity in the diversity of the five mass sections. The composition is generally polyphonic, but through-imitation is rare. Certain parts of the text are stressed by the use of ‘noems’, short homophonic passages where the polyphony is interrupted and the understanding of the text is facilitated by a declamatory style. The composer used this rhetorical technique in essential parts such as the ‘Gloria’, for example to the text of ‘Domine Fili unigenite’ (the Son born as one) or to the passage ‘qui sedes at dexteram Patris’ (who sits at the right hand of the Father), here with an alternation between high and low voices. In the ‘Credo’ too there is homophonic writing in the passage ‘simul adoratur’ and again when the ‘Hosanna’ is sung for the last time. The mass is concluded with a magnificent ‘Agnus Dei’, and here de la Rue put the cantus firmus in the ‘superius’, which was normally always in the tenor part.

Most motets on this CD are linked to the Virgin Mary and the focus is on her joy as well as her grief. First there is Jacob Obrecht's Salve Regina, a six-part setting of the Marian antiphon with the same name. Following the tradition at the Burgundian court such Salve's were often performed for Marian brotherhoods during daily or weekly evening lauds. We opted for an alternatim version whereby the plainchant is adapted rhythmically to the polyphonic parts. A source where this work can be found is a special Alamire manuscript in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich (MS 34), with only Salve settings. It is worth noting that there are instructions for the use of boys’ voices (‘pueri’) in the upper parts. Two of the motets were found in a Brussels choirbook (Royal Library, MS 9126). The presence of Philip the Fair's and Joanna of Castile's coats of arms as well as several miniatures point to the fact that these motets were probably copied for them. The first one, Josquin Desprez's Gaude Virgo, is fairly short. Mary's five (earthly) delights are sung here in a style which can be called typical for Josquin, for example because of the recurring use of duos. In the second motet from the Brussels choirbook, also by Josquin, the link with Mary is not so strong. The subject here is Jesus Christ's death at the cross, which obviously caused much pain to Mary. A four-part version appears in the Brussels codex, but other sources show the addition of a cantus firmus (‘Plangent eum’, an antiphon for the lauds on Easter Saturday) and a sixth voice. It is this last version which you can hear in this recording. It is a fairly extensive work in two sections, and very expressive for its day. It is also worth noting the somewhat unusual key change from the ‘prima pars’ to the ‘secunda pars’, which emphasizes the word ‘felle’ (with black bile).

The impressive seven-part motet Memorare Christi by Matheus Pipelare deals with Mary's seven sorrows. It is a grand composition which appeals to the imagination, partly because of the - for that time - extensive number of voices. The cantus firmus is the Spanish lament ‘Nunca fué pena mayor’, the lyrics of which were written by the grandfather of the Duke of Alva, the infamous governor of the Netherlands. The well-known four-part setting of this Spanish work has in several sources been attributed to Juan Wrede, presumably a Fleming who worked in Spain. In Pipelare's work only the tenor is used, in long note values. This Memorare-Nunca comes from the Brussels MS 215-216 and the theme of the whole manuscript is clearly the Virgin Mary's sorrows, for besides the Memorare there are two masses for the seven sorrows of Mary as well as Josquin's Stabat Mater. It seems that these motets also had to help to achieve the salvation of the soul, judging from the heading of the Memorare: ‘Matheus Pipelare pie memorie’ (sing this motet in pious memory of Matheus Pipelare). Another peculiarity is that the seven voices are entitled, from high to low voice, ‘primus dolor’ (superius), ‘secundus dolor’ (triplum) etc. down to the ‘septimus dolor’ (bassus) - something which was very unusual.

Finally, a brief word about performance practice. When interpreting these works much thought and experiment has gone into the ‘musica ficta’ phenomenon (sharpening and flattening certain notes according to well-defined rules). We have consciously not avoided a number of awkward clashes, not only because musicological research has made further advances in this respect but also because we are convinced that they enhance musical expression.

Since all these composers are connected to the Burgundian court, we have opted for a Franco-Flemish pronunciation, which corresponds to the prosodic aspects, something which becomes very clear in, for example, the Memorare's homophonic passages. Finally, in the cantus firmus settings the texts that are sung are those of the original melodies, which can mean that sometimes two different texts are sung at the same time. This may not make these texts easier to understand, but it offers the extra dimension of symbolism which was so typical for the music of that period. It puts de la Rue in a transitional period between the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, being as much a traditionalist (symbolism, the simultaneous use of different texts) as an innovator (five-part polyphony, textual expression).

Eugeen Schreurs
Translation: Paul Rans, Nell Race

Salve Regina is an eleventh century antiphon. This sensitive Marian song became widely used as a liturgical evensong. St. Bernard (1090-1153) wrote extensively on this song and his monks used it in their daily service. Jacob Obrecht set the later, best-known version of the text to music, where the word ‘mater’ was added in the first verse and the word ‘virgo’ at the end.
The text is here ordered into two times eight ‘cola’ in order to do justice to the medieval rhyming prose. The spelling of the Latin text is that of the Munich manuscript (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Musiksammlung, MS 34, fol. 43b-49).


Twelfth century song on the joys of Mary with six tercets in rhythmic trochaic dimeters. The first two verses end with a paired falling rhyme, while the third verse shows the same rising rhyme ‘-io’ in each of the six stanzas. Stanzas 1 to 5, which all begin with ‘Gaude’, tell about the five joys of the earthly life of the Virgin Mary: the annunciation, the birth, the resurrection, Christ's ascension to heaven and her own ascension. In the first stanza Mary's conception is thought - as so often in the medieval tradition - to have occurred ‘per aurem’: Christ was conceived through the word of the angel which entered ‘through her ear’. The transcription of the Latin text adheres to the manuscript's medieval spelling (Brussels, Royal Library, MS 9126, fol. 178b-180).


Song of Christ on the cross, ascribed to the ecclesiastical writer Johannes Trithemius OSB (1462-1516), abbot of Sponheim and Würzburg. Six classical elegiac distichs (dactylic hexameter + pentameter), divided into three quatrains. Stanzas 1 and 3 are the words ofJesus on the Cross, stanza 2 reflects the thoughts of the poet.
The transcription of the Latin text respects the spelling in the manuscript (Brussels, Royal Library, MS 9126, fol. 172b-174).


Late medieval song on the seven sorrows of Mary. There are ten stanzas, each one with four rhythmic trochaic dimeters, rhyming in pairs (aa-bb). Only the second half of the seventh stanza - voluntarily? - breaks the rhythm. The seven sorrows of Mary are Simeon's prediction (stanza 1), the flight to Egypt (2), the search for the young Jesus (3-4), the road to Golgotha (5-6), Jesus's death at the cross (7), the mourning (8) and the burial ofJesus (9). The incipit ‘Memorare’ is identical to the well-known prose prayer ‘Memorare, o piissima Virgo Maria’, but that is the only parallel. However, there are quite a few textual echoes from the ‘Stabat Mater’, especially in stanzas 6 to 10. Apart from a few necessary corrections, the text of the Latin is that of the Brussels manuscript (Royal Library, MS 215-216, fol. 33b-38).


For the ‘Memorare, Mater Christi’, only the incipit ‘Numquam fuit pena maior’ is given as cantus firmus in the Brussels manuscript (Royal Library, MS 215-216, fol. 33b). This refers to the 15th century Spanish love lament ‘Nunca fué pena mayor’, written by Don García Alvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alva (grandfather of the infamous governor of the Netherlands). The text of the first half of this song has been borrowed from Helen Hewitt's critical edition in Harmonice Musices Odhecaton A (Cambridge, Mass., 1942), pp. 226-227.