Among the various settings of the Lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah by Portuguese composers (i.e. Brito, Cristo, Cardoso, Melgaz…) this Lesson by Cardoso is probably my favourite one, although the following Lesson (for SSAT), also by him, is not far, and I have been sing it with my group lately.
This is the second lesson of the first nocturn for the Matins Office on Maundy Thursday. Cardoso begins with the letter “Vau”.It was published in the collection Livro de varios motetes…, His last work to be printed in Lisbon in 1648, two years before his death. It is interesting to hear the following letter (Zain) also displays the typical dissonance achieved through a sucsession of descending suspensions, especially in the upper voices (cf. Victoria’s settings). The work is scored for six voices (SSAATB) using the common clef combination (c1, c1, c3, c3, c4, f4).
I have sung this setting in Évora Cathedral, during one of the International Workshops “Évora Cathedral Music School” final concerts directed by Peter Philips. The long sustained harmonies of the lesson’s reciting tone produce an amazing effect in the Cathedral. I guess this is one of Cardoso’s best-known works together with the amazing Missa pro Defunctis. It has been recorded by many groups and the recording available on YouTube is by Ars Nova, directed by Bo Holten, which is not my favourite one.