Concert Programmes

“Romance and Reverence”

At the invitation of Galway Early Music Festival 2017.

Crux Vocal Ensemble sings of love and commitment in this concert of vocal music from the Ars Antiqua to modern day.

Two lovers navigate the rise and fall of life and love in a fickle world, all doors to which – and from which – are firmly manned by the Church in rituals of music and ceremony.

Commencing this lifecycle, the dazzling music of Perotin’s ‘Viderunt Omnes’ – written for Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris – gives way to the more earthly concerns of our couple in love music by Machaut, Dunstaple and Landini. As their bond grows, so they must heed the priest’s sermonising (Byrd, ‘The Match That’s Made’). With the fragrance of nuptial intent in the air, the villagers sing ‘Sumer Is Icumen In’ in riotous anticipation.

Wedding bells ring in the second half of the concert, an acoustic backdrop for three lofty, breathless bellringers as they berate each other’s performance (Senfl, ‘Das Gelaut zu Speyer’). Ceremony music is provided by Tallis and Byrd.
With the last guest gone, bride and groom look to their future (music by Ola Gjeilo, text from the Song of Songs)

The years pass. Our husband is dragged to battle, our wife to loneliness and despair. She weeps among the dew-green barley, he dreams of her voice over the arid babble of turbanned tongues. Life goes on – apart – with only one certain reunion. Night falls to the sound of funereal obsequies by Purcell.
With the final portal in sight, Crux gives powerful, prayerful conclusion to this concert with Gesualdo’s ‘Miserere Mei’, realised now in glorious abbellimenti (virtuosic embellishing) – an astonishing, unique interpretation.

A gathering of voices, a peal of handbells, a frill of instruments and the extraordinary talents of soprano saxophonist Natalia. A new halo of beauty irradiates this ancient music.
Directed by Paul McGough.

Duration: 1 hour excluding interval.

‘Opening prayerS: the Blessing of the Earth’
1. Alleluia Pascha Nostrum (Léonin, fl. 1159–1201)
2. Viderunt Omnes (Perotin, fl. 1170–1236)
3. Beata Viscera (Perotin)

‘The Romance’
4. Rose, Lis, Printemps, Verdure (G. de Machaut, ca 1300–1377)
5. Quam Pulchra est (J. Dunstaple, 1390–1453)
6. Per Seguir la Sperança (F. Landini, 1327–1397)
7. Robin m’aime (A. de la Halle, ca 1260–1306)
8. The Match that’s Made (W. Byrd, 1540–1623)
9. Sumer is icumen in (Anon. C. 13th?)

‘The Wedding’
10. Das Geläut zu Speyer (L. Senfl, 1485–1543)
11. If Ye Love Me (T. Tallis, 1505–1585)
12. Haec Dies (Byrd)
13. Osculetur me / O Magnum Mysterium (O. Gjeilo, 1976- )

‘War and strife’
14. Chanterai pour mon coraige (Anon. C. 13th?)

‘Closing prayers’
15. Remember not, Lord, our offences (H. Purcell, 1659–1695)
16. Miserere Mei (C. Gesualdo, 1556–1613)

The Weeping of David

David the Goliath-slayer and second King of Israel and Judah was regarded as a great, powerful ruler; a just man and ancestor of Jesus Christ. But the heart of this valiant aesthete was broken when his favourite son – the headstrong Absalon – challenged his father as king. War ensued. With orders to spare his son’s life, David allowed himself to be drawn into bitter battle, the result of which was Absalon’s death at the hands of a rogue soldier. The ageing king retreated to solitude and wept: “O my son Absalom… if only I had died instead of you.”

Crux celebrates the rich literature of David’s psalms (seventy-three are attributed to him) in settings of select tracts, eg. ‘When David Heard’ (Tomkins), funeral music by Henry Purcell, Tallis’ imitative ‘Miserere Nostri’ and Allegri’s ‘Miserere Mei’. These substantial works are supported by solo and instrumental music; personal, heart-rending laments from the time of the Crusades, songs for the fallen Jerusalem and for fallen loved ones.

Duration: 1 hour excluding interval.