Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Celebrating with Palestrina's Missa Brevis


I managed to catch Choral Eucharist in St John's Smith Square yesterday lunchtime. Built in 1728 St John's Smith Square is one of the finest examples of English Baroque architecture. It is located within a few minutes walk of all the government departments and the Houses of Parliament themselves. Although still used as a church St John's is now best known as a concert and recording venue. Many famous records have been made there, most notably by Neville Marriner and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. The church has glorious acoustics, and its location in a quiet square helps keep the background noise down.

The service today was sung by Cantandum directed by Gilly French, with Rosemary Field organ. The celebrant was the Rev. Jennie Hogan. Here is the music:

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina - Missa brevis
Cristóbal de Morales - Ecce virgo concipiet
Louis Vierne - Etoile du Soir
Marcel Dupré - Lumen ad revelationem

* As well as being one of my favourite Renaissance musicians, the composer of today's anthem, Cristóbal de Morales, provided the inspiration for a celebrated album made by saxophonist Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble. The ECM CD Officium takes its title and first track from the Parce mihi domine from Morales' Officium defunctorum. For more on this read Officium live - a triumph of music theatre.

* The powerful painting above is one of twelve panels by the Australian artist Alan Oldfield inspired by St Julian of Norwich's revelations. The originals hang in St Gabriel's Chapel, All Hallows Convent, Ditchingham. For more on St Julian read Medieval mystics with musical connections.
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