Filipe de Magalhães • Commissa mea pavesco

The motet Commissa mea pavesco by Portuguese composer Filipe de Magalhães (c.1571-1652) is most certainly one of his best compositions and an extraordinary work, full of “word painting” moments. The motet ends the 1636 Liber Missarum, printed in Lisbon by Lourenço Craesbeeck. This is one of the characteristic motets that were included in the Officium Defunctorum (in the Liber Missarum it follows the six-voice Missa pro Defunctis). It is scored for six voices (SSAATB).

Magalhães makes use of imitation and accidentals to enphasise the melodic lines, giving it a particular character. “Word painting” is clearly perceptable in all voices at the word “pavesco” with eight notes ascending and descending in each voice. From “noli me condemnare” there is imitation in all voices of a theme which has a minor second interval, confering this section an interesting sound world.

This work has been recorded by Ars Nova, directed by Bo Holten, in their cd Portuguese Polyphony. It was also recorded by the William Byrd Choir, directed by Gavin Turner, in their cd Masterpieces of Portuguese Polyphony. I also edited this work, together with another 6vv motet, for Edições MPMP (available here).

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