Mateus d’Aranda • Adjuva nos Deus

In 2012 during the time I spent working in Terceira Island I put together a group at Angra Cathedral, Ensemble da Sé de Angra. The idea was to create a group, with one singer-per-part to perform polyphony and participate in the Liturgical services of the Cathedral together with the main choir. We made several concerts in 2012 and three in the beginning of 2013. This was the third, in the Church of Santa Cruz, Praia da Vitória.

This was part of an ambitious programme I made comprising works by Manuel Mendes, Manuel Cardoso, Estêvão de Brito, Estêvão Lopes Morago and Mateus d’Aranda. Given the circumstances of the work the group did quite fine, working very hard to prepare all the concert programmes. This motet by Aranda was one of my first accomplished objectives, to perform it following a new edition of the work.

Although Spanish, Mateus d’Aranda was a strong influence in the music at Évora Cathedral during the sixteenth century. Mostly know as a theoretician – he publish the first two known treatises onf music printed in Portugal – there is only one complete polyphonic piece by him. This work is a tractus for Lent – Adjuva nos Deus – which, together with two fragments of a Credo – form the parchment found by José Augusto Alegria in the 70′s during the cataloging of the musical archive at Évora Public Library.

This is simple work, for four voices (SATB),  in a quite straightforward writing based on the correspondent cantus firmus Adjuva nos Deus was first recorded, together with the Credo fragments, in 1996 CD by the Coro Polifónico Eborae Musica, directed by Francisco d’Orey. This video is the first recording since Eborae Musica’s recording, with a new edition I prepared, with the adding of musica ficta that wasn’t present in the former edition prepared by Alegria.

This video is from Ensemble da Sé de Angra’s concert at Igreja Matriz de Santa Cruz, Praia da Vitória, 3 February 2013. In this recording the ensemble are Carolina Barbosa (superius), Ana Sousa (altus), Luís Henriques (tenor), Jorge Barbosa (bassus). This was quite a challange to prepare singers almost from scratch to sing polyphony in an island that, although having a choir singing tradition, had no modal polyphonic singing tradition which some might know that it isn’t quite the same as singing tonal music in a choir.

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