28 Oct 2008
Response to Lassus: Missa Pro Defuncti/Prophetiae Sibyllarum (Victoria Brown)
When one thinks of church and its music, often lively hymns of rejoicing come to mind. However, after listening to the recording of Orlando di Lasso’s Missa Pro Defuncti and Prophetiae Sibyllarum I am reminded that the music found in church today and church then is incredibly different. Today you can hear “rock bands” and many short uplifting hymns are sung. Centuries ago, the mass settings written for church and sacred music were so deep and nearly haunting. As the layers of music began to unfold to composers and listeners alike in the 1500’s they started to explore the intensity of chromatics.
I was pleased to read about the fact that all of the songs on this recording are four voice parts and written for the mass. I would have liked to have read about the texts used in these songs. They are set for the mass and by reading the translations the material is easily recognized as strongly sacred which coincides with the melodic parts and the interaction of the voices. The use of chromatics in the music is engaging and draws me in as a listener. Upon reading the texts while listening to the music I can distinguish that there is some definite word painting throughout the songs. The rapid changes in tonality and the way individual lines intertwine with each other are extremely impressive. Another thing I took note of after reading the insert provided is that Lassus came up with these Latin verses for his music by taking and interest in specifically the paintings of Sibyls in the late fifteenth century. The prophecies accompanying the paintings played a large role in the texts Lassus used.
One last thing I think would have been inviting to read about is a more in depth look at Lassus’ use of chromatics.
Overall, I enjoyed