Pomerium: Passion and Resurrection Motets of the Renaissance

POMERIUM was founded by Alexander Blachly in New York in 1972 to perform music composed for the famed chapel choirs of the Renaissance. The name—medieval Latin for "garden" or "orchard"—derives from the title of a treatise by the fourteenth-century music theorist Marchettus of Padua, who explained that his book contains the "fruits and flowers" of the art of music.)

Recorded April 15, 2006

This program highlights the stylistic progression in sacred music from ancient Gregorian chant to the polyphonic elaboration of chant practiced by Du Fay and Senfl to the increasingly specific and dramatic musical depiction of words and ideas in the music of Lassus, Monteverdi, and Gesualdo. Chant endows words with melody, heightening their significance (hence the place of sung words in almost all rituals). Polyphony heightens the specificity of melody in the same way that melody heightens the specificity of words, and it can remove words still further from everyday use. In the hands of a great composer, a text set to polyphony is like rhyming poeticized—it has become high art.

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