From the beginning of the 16th century, the fame of composers also depended on their ability to express meaning and emotions in their music. Maybe because of his exposure to humanism, Josquin Desprez is often quoted as one of the first great masters of musical rhetoric. To show his exceptional ability at employing musico-rhetorical gestures and resources, we will explore his settings of some of the most potent texts he encountered, especially during his time in Ferrara.
The compositions will be accompanied by dramatic recitations. His connection to the Este court in Ferrara probably allowed him to meet important poets like Pietro Bembo and Ercole Strozzi. It is easy to imagine that the same circle was extremely fond of the works of Maffeo Vegio and Angelo Poliziano, and that they were all greatly inspired by their readings of the Greek and Latin classics.
Finally, Josquin’s stay in Ferrara most probably prompted his settings of the Psalms 31 and 51, that were famously also the subject of two meditations that the great rhetorician Girolamo Savonarola (photo) wrote in prison, waiting to be executed.
In this program you will discover how Josquin was inspired in his music by some of the most powerful rhetorical poetry of this period. The compositions are accompanied by the poems from which they are derived, dramatically recited by singer/speaker Nico van der Meel. And during the sung parts you can read along in the original music manuscripts on a large screen!
The tragedy of Virgil’s Dido…
Virgil – Excerpts from the Aeneid, book IV (spoken)
Josquin Desprez – Fama malum
Virgil Excerpts from the Aeneid, book IV (spoken)
Josquin Desprez – Dulces exuviae
… and of a mysterious Renaissance lady
Anonymous – Fortuna desperata (first two stanzas)
Anonymous – Fortuna desperata (spoken)
Josquin Desprez (?) – Consideres mes incessantes/Fortuna (last stanza)
Passion and drama in humanistic poems about Jesus and the Virgin Mary
Angelo Poliziano – O Virgo prudentissima (spoken)
Josquin Desprez – O Virgo prudentissima
Maffeo Vegio – Huc me sydereo (spoken)
Josquin Desprez – Huc me sydereo
The anguished meditations of a doomed preacher
Girolamo Savonarola – Excerpt from Tristitia obsedit me (spoken)
Josquin Desprez – In te domine speravi
Girolamo Savonarola – Excerpt from Infelix ego (spoken)
Josquin Desprez – Miserere mei
Stratton Bull, Andrew Hallock | superius
Lior Leibovici, Korneel van Neste | contratenor
Peter de Laurentiis, Pieter de Moor | tenor
Máté Bruckner, Bram Trouwborst | bassus
Nico van der Meel | speaker
Stratton Bull | artistic director