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One hour of browsing through early music. Three settings from ‘Miserere mei Deus’, one of the most famous penitential psalms sung during lent.

Traditionally, the seven penitential psalms are sung during lent. The most famous of those being Psalm 50 (51), ‘Miserere mei Deus’.
Orlandus Lassus is just one of the many composers who put this psalm to music. His setting is part of a cycle of all seven penitential psalms. He divides the text into several segments that take the form of a motet. The number of harmonies ranges from two to five. At the end, Lassus adds a sixth harmony. During this program we will enjoy a performance with vocals and instruments.

The next two settings were composed much later, in the first half of the 18th century. One of the two composers is Portuguese, the other Spanish.
João Rodrigues Esteves had served as the chapel master of the Basilica di Santa Maria in Lisbon since 1729. In 1737 he composed his Miserere for twelve voices in three choirs. The piece reflects the influence of his studies in Rome, where a long tradition of polychoral music existed.
The last piece is a setting by Juan Manuel de la Puente who served as chapel master at Jaén cathedral from 1711 until his death in 1753. He composed a large number of works of which around two-thirds has been lost. He composed his Miserere for eighteen voices in seven choirs of differing compositions in 1726.

Orlandus Lassus (1532-1594)
1. Quartus Psalmus Poenitentialis: Miserere mei Deus a 5
Tölzer Knabenchor, Musicalische Compagney conducted by Gerhard Schmidt-Gaden
(CD: “Busspsalmen, Teil 2” – Capriccio 67 130, 2005)

João Rodrigues Esteves (ca 1700-ca 1751)
2. Miserere mei Deus a 12
Ensemble Européen William Byrd conducted by Graham O’Reilly
(CD: “Miserere, Lamentations, Stabat mater” – Ambronay Éditions AMY006, 2006)

Juan Manuel de la Puente (1692-1753)
3. Miserere mei Deus a 18
María Espada, soprano. Marta Infante, mezzo-soprano. Jesús García Aréjula, baritone. Vandalia Choir, Orquestra Barroca de Sevilla conducted by Enrico Onofri
(CD: “Music at the Cathedral of Jaén” – Passacaille 1037, 2018)

Johann Gottfried Walther (1684-1748)
4. Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott
Simone Stella, organ
(CD: “Complete Organ Music” – Brilliant Classics 94730, 2015)


Pictured above: Orlandus Lassus

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