Robert Jones: Missa Spes nostra (Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks, vol. 4)

by Blue Heron

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Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks, vol. 4

Robert Jones: Missa Spes nostra
Nicholas Ludford: Ave cujus conceptio
Robert Hunt: Stabat mater

Restored by Nick Sandon

The fourth installment in its pathbreaking 5-CD series of music from the Peterhouse partbooks contains the world premiere recording of the only surviving Mass of Robert Jones (fl.1520-1535), who was employed in the royal chapel during the reign of Henry VIII. Lyrical and mellifluous, the mass is a mature work, revealing a Master composer at the height of his power. The completely unknown composer Robert Hunt left behind a stunning work that brilliantly highlights the drama of the Stabat mater story.

BHCD1005

"The superb Boston-based choir Blue Heron have released Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks, vol. 4, featuring works of Robert Jones, Nicholas Ludford, and Robert Hunt in reconstructions by Nick Sandon. Almost nothing is known about Jones (fl. 1520-35), yet his Missa Spes nostra is, as Scott Metcalfe writes in his notes, the 'unique creation of a mature composer with a distinct individual voice.' Flowing vocal lines are interspersed with tart, ambiguous harmonies; there is a canny use of musical space, a sense of height and depth to the unfolding structures. As on previous releases, the singing is both precise and fluid, immaculate and alive. In Robert Hunt's Stabat mater, another remarkable piece by an otherwise unknown composer, the choir swells to a darkly splendid climax at 'Stabat natus sic contentus / Ad debellandum Sathanam,' the latter name slicing through the air."
Alex Ross, The New Yorker | Aug. 25, 2015

"Ludford’s Marian votive antiphon Ave cujus conceptio is pure joy and a major discovery. I would fully endorse Sandon’s claim in the Introduction to the Antico edition that Ludford... is shown by his Peterhouse works to be ‘a highly individual, imaginative, resourceful and polished composer, fit to be ranked alongside Taverner’ – high praise! The choir does Ludford ample justice, dipping and soaring effortlessly in his long-drawn phrases while pointing up the pervasive but never rigid imitation that binds the textures together and prefigures the procedures of such as Tallis and Byrd."
Hugh Leyte, Early Music Review (UK) | Sept. 1, 2015

"Metcalfe’s expressive singers...go from strength to strength; the tone is always pellucid, the phrases beautifully shaped, the ensemble perfect, the tuning shining. The sopranos soar effortlessly into the skies. This group is an American treasure...Bravo!"
Tom Moore, EMAg | Winter 2015/16

"A superb example of what Scott Metcalfe has achieved with Blue Heron: an ensemble that yields to none for intonation, blend, and clarity, yet also utilizes both overall and part-related dynamics as an expressive device in a way most other professional choirs of its quality do not. Metcalfe is alive to the lyricism that was a remarked-upon feature of 15th century English music, and the beauty of Blue Heron's phrasing displays this everywhere on this disc.…The entire series to date is worth the purchase.... Strongly recommended.”
Barry Brenesal , Fanfare | Sept. 2015

"Like a cool glass of water after a long walk in the desert... sung with the sweet and burnished tone and colorful but seamless blend that are Blue Heron’s hallmark. No classical collection can afford to pass up any disc in this series."
Rick Anderson, CDHotList | Sept. 2015

Our understanding of English music from the early sixteenth century is grievously hindered by a historical tragedy, the destruction of most manuscripts of English sacred music during the religious upheavals of the 16th and 17th centuries. The Reformation regarded the florid music of late medieval Catholicism with disdain, if not outright hostility, and much was lost or deliberately destroyed by zealots. Fewer than ten significant sources survive from the period 1500-1547, much less than one might have found in just one well-stocked church music library at the time. The Peterhouse partbooks are the largest extant source and contain nearly 50 pieces not found complete anywhere else. Despite the enormous importance of this source to music history and the extremely high quality of much of the music contained in it, it has received short shrift from performers and musicologists alike owing to the fact that the tenor partbook, along with a portion of the treble, has been missing for centuries. This has prevented singers from performing the fifty pieces in the partbooks that survive complete in no other source—until recently, that is. Blue Heron’s performances of the incomplete Peterhouse music rely on reconstructions by the English musicologist Nick Sandon, who has devoted his career to restoring this repertoire to its rightfully prominent place.

The CD booklet includes extensive notes by Scott Metcalfe on the Peterhouse partbooks, the music by Jones, Hunt and Ludford, and on the performance practice of music from the period. A detailed account by Nick Sandon of the Peterhouse partbooks, their place in history, and the process of restoring the missing music, may be found in the notes to the Volume 1 of the series, Hugh Aston: Three Marian Antiphons (BHCD 1002); the notes may also be read online or downloaded at Blue Heron’s website (www.blueheronchoir.org), where you will also find links to more information on the project, including recorded interviews with Nick Sandon and Scott Metcalfe.

credits

released August 14, 2015

Engineering & mastering: Joel Gordon
Producer: Eric Milnes
Editing: Eric Milnes & Joel Gordon
Cover photo: Trillium erectum
(Image copyright Georgianna Lane / Garden Photo World / Corbis)
Graphic design: Melanie Germond

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Blue Heron Boston, Massachusetts

Blue Heron, directed by Scott Metcalfe, has been acclaimed by The Boston Globe as “one of the Boston music community’s indispensables” and hailed by Alex Ross in The New Yorker for the “expressive intensity” of its interpretations; the Boston Musical Intelligencer calls Blue Heron “a fantastic model for the fully-realized potential of early music performance in the 21st century.” ... more

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Track Name: Ave cujus conceptio
Ave cujus conceptio,
Solemni plena gaudio,
Celestia terrestria
Nova replet letitia.
Ave cujus nativitas
Nostra fuit solemnitas,
Ut lucifer lux oriens
Ipsum solem preveniens.
Ave pia humilitas,
Sine viro fecunditas,
Cujus annuntiatio
Nostra fuit redemptio.
Ave vera virginitas,
Immaculata castitas,
Cujus purificatio
Nostra fuit purgatio.
Ave plena in omnibus
Angelicis virtutibus,
Cujus fuit assumptio

Hail, thou whose Conception,
filled with devout joy,
makes heaven and earth
replete with a new gladness.
Hail, thou whose Nativity
was our celebration,
like the morning star, a dawning light
preceding the sun itself.
Hail, thou humble obedience,
fertility without man’s intervention,
whose Annunciation
was our redemption.
Hail, thou true virginity,
spotless chastity,
whose Purification
was our purgation.
Hail, thou filled with all
angelic virtues,
whose Assumption
was our glorification.

Translation of Ave cujus conceptio
© Nick Sandon 1993 and 2013.
Track Name: Kyrie Deus creator omnium
Deus creator omnium tu theos ymon nostri pie eleyson.
Tibi laudes conjubilantes regum rex Christe oramus te
eleyson.
Laus virtus pax et imperium cui est semper sine fine eleyson.
Christe rex unice patris almi nate coeterne eleyson.
Qui perditum hominem salvasti de morte reddens vite
eleyson.
Ne pereant pascue oves tue Jesu pastor bone eleyson.
Consolator spiritus supplices ymas te exoramus eleyson.
Virtus nostra domine atque salus nostra in eternum eleyson.
Summe Deus et une vite dona nobis tribue misertus nostrique
tu digneris eleyson.

O God, creator of all things, thou our merciful God, have mercy.
Singing your praises, O Christ, king of kings, we pray to thee, have
mercy.
Praise, power, peace, and dominion to him who is forever without
end: have mercy.
O Christ, sole king, born coeternal with the forgiving father, have
mercy.
Thou who saved lost humanity, giving life for death, have mercy.
Lest your pastured sheep should perish, O Jesus, good shepherd,
have mercy.
Consoler of suppliant spirits below, we beseech thee, have mercy.
Our strength, O Lord, and our salvation in eternity, have mercy.
Highest and only God, grant us life, the gift of compassion to those
whom you favor: have mercy.
Track Name: Gloria / Missa Spes nostra
Gloria in excelsis deo, et in terra pax hominibus bone
voluntatis. Laudamus te. Benedicimus te. Adoramus te.
Glorificamus te. Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam
gloriam tuam. Domine deus, rex celestis, deus pater
omnipotens. Domine fili unigenite, Jesu Christe. Domine
deus, agnus dei, filius patris. Qui tollis peccata mundi,
miserere nobis. Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem
nostram. Qui sedes ad dexteram patris, miserere
nobis. Quoniam tu solus sanctus, tu solus dominus, tu
solus altissimus, Jesu Christe, cum sancto spiritu in gloria
dei patris. Amen.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to all of good will.
We praise you. We bless you. We adore you. We glorify you. We
give thanks to you for your great glory. Lord God, heavenly king,
almighty God the Father. Lord Jesus Christ, only begotten Son.
Lord God, lamb of God, Son of the Father. Who takes away the
sins of the world, have mercy on us. Who takes away the sins of
the world, receive our prayer. Who sits at the right hand of the
Father, have mercy on us. For you alone are holy, you alone are
the Lord, the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in the
glory of God the Father. Amen.
Track Name: Credo / Missa Spes nostra
Credo in unum deum, patrem omnipotentem, factorem celi
et terre, visibilium omnium et invisibilium. Et in unum
dominum Jesum Christum, filium dei unigenitum: et ex
patre natum ante omnia secula. Deum de deo, lumen de
lumine, deum verum de deo vero. Genitum non factum,
consubstantialem patri: per quem omnia facta sunt. Et
incarnatus est de spiritu sancto ex Maria virgine: et homo
factus est. Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato:
passus et sepultus est. Et resurrexit tertia die secundum
scripturas. Et ascendit in celum: sedet ad dexteram patris.
Et iterum venturus est cum gloria judicare vivos et mortuos:
cujus regni non erit finis. Amen.

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and
earth and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus
Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father. God
from God, Light from Light, true God from true God. Begotten,
not made; of one being with the Father, through whom all things
are made. He was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,
and was made man. He was crucified for our sake under Pontius
Pilate, died, and was buried. On the third day he rose again, in
accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and
is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to
judge both the living and the dead, and his kingdom shall have
no end. Amen.
Track Name: Sanctus / Missa Spes nostra
Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus, dominus deus sabaoth.
Pleni sunt celi et terra gloria tua. Osanna in excelsis.
Benedictus qui venit in nomine domini. Osanna in excelsis.

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the
highest.
Track Name: Agnus dei / Missa Spes nostra
Agnus dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy
on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy
on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace.
Track Name: Stabat mater
Stabat mater dolorosa
Juxta crucem lacrimosa,
Dum pendebat filius,
Cuius animam gementem,
Contristantem et dolentem
Pertransivit gladius.

O quam tristis et afflicta
Fuit illa benedicta
Mater unigeniti,
Que merebat et dolebat
Dum videbat et gerebat
Penas nati incliti.

Quis est homo qui non fleret
Matrem Christi si videret
In tanto supplicio?
Quis non potest contristari
Matrem Christi contemplari
Dolentem cum filio?

Eya mater, fons amoris
Me sentire vim doloris
Fac, ut tecum lugeam.
Fac ut ardeat cor meum
In amando Christum deum
Ut illi complaceam.

Stabat mater rubens rosa
Juxta crucem lachrimosa
Videns ferre criminosa
Nullo reum crimine.
Et dum stetit generosa
Juxta natum dolorosa
Plebs tunc clamat clamorosa,
“Crucifige, crucifige!”

O quam gravis illa pena
Tibi virgo pene plena,
Commemorans preamena
Jam versa in mesticiam.
Color rose non est inventus
In te mater dum detentus
Stabat natus sic contentus
Ad debellandum Sathanam.

Per hec nata preamata
Natum tuum qui peccata
Dele cuncta perpetrata
Deprecare dulciflue,
Ut nostra tergens ingrata
In nobis plantet firme grata,
Per quem dando prelibata
Prestet eterna requie.

Amen.

The grieving mother
stood beside the doleful cross
while her son hung there,
and the sword went through
her weeping soul,
sorrowing and lamenting.

Oh, how sad and afflicted
was that blessed mother
of the only-begotten,
who sorrowed and lamented
while she saw and experienced
the sufferings of her illustrious son.

Who is the man who would not weep
if he saw the mother of Christ
in such great anguish?
Who would not be moved to compassion
if he beheld the mother of Christ
grieving with her son?

Ah, mother, fount of love,
make me feel the force of grief
so that I may mourn with thee.
Make my heart take fire
in loving Christ the God
that I may be pleasing to him.

The mother stood, blushing red,
beside the dolorous cross,
watching him borne in ignominy
who was guilty of no crime.
And while the noble woman stood there
beside her suffering son,
the people cried out clamorously,
“Crucify, crucify!”

Oh, how intense was that grief
to thee, maiden full of sorrows,
remembering great happiness
now turned into sorrow.
No natural complexion was found
in thee, mother, while fixed there
thy son stood, thus intent
on doing battle with Satan.

For this reason, most beloved daughter,
in sweet-flowing words beseech
thy son, that he will cancel all sins
that have been committed,
so that, wiping away our unworthiness,
he may plant worthiness firmly within us,
and by giving us this aforesaid gift
may bestow everlasting repose.

Amen.

Translation of Stabat mater
© Nick Sandon 1993 and 2013