Magnificat - 14 Cd Set
Label: BRILLIANT CLASSICS
From the celebrated classics to the rare recordings, this set brings together 600 years of the Magnificat. Short for Magnificat anima mea Dominum (My soul doth magnify the Lord), it’s also known as The Song of Mary and The Canticle of Mary and makes up part of the Catholic liturgy and Anglican canticles. The Magnificat comes from Luke I: 46-55 and conveys the Virgin Mary’s elation after the revelation that she is carrying the son of God. Throughout the centuries composers have tried their hand at setting this passage to music. This set takes the listener on a trip through time as we begin in the Medieval and Renaissance eras with Josquin, Gibbons and Dowland, passing via Bach, Mozart and Liszt, before arriving at present day interpretations of the sacred text. The wide time-span and geographies of the composers in this release provide some interesting comparisons. The set opens with a selection of early music composers, the pioneers of choral music, among them Giovanni Legrenzi who was enormously influential in the development of the Italian Baroque style and counted Vivaldi among his students, the latter also featuring on this set. Other influential figures include Gombert, a Franco-Flemish composer who employs double counterpoint, a technique later beloved by Bach, while Dutch composer Adrian Willaert, active during the same era as Gombert, based himself in Venice and was a pioneer in the use of antiphonal effects. Composers from across Europe came to learn from Willaert and took his teachings back to their native countries. Nourished by cross-cultural exchanges, musical in Europe flourished, and in the rest of the release we hear evidence of the ripple effect generated by these early music trail blazers. The contributions to the Magnificat by 18th- and 19th-century composers such as Mendelssohn, Schubert and Liszt have often been overlooked in favour of their better-known piano works, but they are given due attention here. From an early age Mendelssohn was heavily influenced by Bach, and he composed his own Magnificat at the age of 13. From among the modern composers to have experimented with setting music for the Magnificat, Arvo Part is notable for employing his distinctive and meditative compositional procedure, which he calls ‘tintinnabuli’, inspired by the sound of bells. Like Part, Kenneth Leighton is also famous for his religious music. His desire to expand his ‘narrowlyBritish’ background and subsequent study under Goffredo Petrassi in Rome makes his music an exciting melting pot of European influences.