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SACD400   Pierre de Manchicourt, Volume I



Pierre de Manchicourt, Volume I

The Choir of The Church of the Advent, Boston
Edith Ho, Director of Music
Ross Wood, Associate Conductor

  • Notes by Lavern Wagner
  • Complete texts and translations
  • 58'22" total playing time

SACD400     $15.95

Purchase from Canticle Distributing

SACD playable as: 

1. Motet Non conturbetur cor vestrum (SATB)
    Missa Non conturbetur cor vestrum
2. Kyrie (SATB)
3. Gloria (SATB)
4. Credo (SATB)
5. Sanctus & Benedictus (SATB)
6. Agnus Dei I (SATB)
7. Agnus Dei II (SAATB)
8. Motet Regina cœli (SSATBB)
9. Motet Jubilate Deo (SSATTB)
10. Motet Ego sum panis vivus (SATTB)
11. Motet Vidi Speciosam (SSAATTBB)

Listen Listen:

Agnus Dei II


For listeners who want to explore a rare corner of the 16th Century repertory in first-rate performances, this recording will be a prize.  --Galens, American Record Guide, July/Aug 2005

This is the sort of music that multichannel is meant for, and Arsis, Ho and her choir - with no little help from Manchicourt - have created a most attractive disc.  --James Reel, Fanfare, July/Aug 2005

This is gorgeous music, unavailable elsewhere and beautifully performed, making the disk a must-have.
  --Steve Holtje, Early Music America, Summer 2005



In mid-sixteenth century Europe, the position of director of the chapel choir for the musically-appreciative Emperor Charles V was a coveted one for any musician. After having served as Holy Roman Emperor for over thirty-five years, Charles resigned, however, retiring to a monastery at Yuste, Spain in 1555. He divided up his empire, which included much of Europe, between his son, who became Philip II of Spain, and his brother, Ferdinand of Austria.

Fortunately, Philip II had acquired from his father a taste for the finest music of the time. Even before he obtained his inheritance, he had already received from his father a chapel made up of outstanding musicians from the Low Countries. At first situated in Brussels, the chapel was led by Nicolas Payen from 1556 until his death in May 1559. Later that summer, after Philip II had established his full court in Madrid, the position of Chapelmaster was awarded to Pierre de Manchicourt.

Manchicourt had earned this prestigious office through a succession of increasingly important musical positions. Born in c. 1510 near Arras in the French area of Falnders, Manchicourt received his musical education as a choirboy at the cathedral there. By 1539 he was director of the choir at Tours Cathedral, then in 1545 Chapelmaster at Tournai Cathedral. In 1556 he became canon at Arras Cathedral. Finally, in the summer of 1559, he took up the position of Chapelmaster to Philip II.

Manchicourt served the court of Philip II in Madrid during the period of its initial organization. Critical to the chapel's musical success was the ongoing work of obtaining new boys to replenish the choir. In 1560, only a year after he arrived in Spain, Manchicourt traveled back to the Low Countries to recruit choirboys with excellent voices. One of the youths he brought to Spain was George de La Hèle, who later attained the position of Chapelmaster to Philip II from 1582-1586. Manchicourt's own tenure as musical director there was to be his last, for he died in Madrid on 5 October 1564, at about the age of 54.

Extensive printings of his music ensured that Manchicourt's name was known throughout Europe. In 1532 the Parisian printer Pierre Attaingnant had given initial recognition to Manchicourt's talents by printing his Mass Deus in adjutorium as the first of three Masses included in Attaingnant's earliest book. Some seven years later Manchicourt was again honored by Attaingnant with a printing of an entire collection of nineteen motets. Other important printings followed, including another exclusive collection of motets issued by Pierre Phalèse at Louvain in 1554. His works may also be found in printings by Susato, Gardane, Montanus & Neuber, Moderne, and Du Chemin. Moreover, the dedications in these printings point to his connnections with Claudin de Sermisy, Tilman Susato, Archbishop Granvelle (an important patron of the arts), and other notable figures of the time. The extensive distribution of Manchicourt's works offers certain evidence that they were highly admired during his lifetime.

Two other sizable manuscripts of Manchicourt's works from this period also exist. A beautiful choirbook of twelve Masses was produced at the court of Maria of Hungary in Brussels in the early 1550s, and another containing fifteen works dates from c. 1560. Both of these important manuscripts are today in the Benedictine Abbey at Montserrat, Spain.

Manchicourt's motet Non conturbetur cor vestrum relates to the Ascension of Christ into heaven forty days after Easter and to the promise of the Holy Spirit to come on Pentecost. A joyful message of hope runs through the text, both parts of which conclude with an Alleluia. The setting of the Alleluia of part two emphasizes its joyous message by switching from duple to triple meter with a mixture of homophony and polyphony flowing together to its conclusion. The original pitch level of this motet is here transposed up a fifth to match the pitch level of the Mass of the same name.

The Mass Non conturbetur cor vestrum is of the type known as a parody Mass, though "parody" in this context is not to be taken as a pejorative term. In its application to sixteenth-century music, the term "parody" indicates that significant sections of the Mass are based upon a pre-existent polyphonic model, in this case Manchicourt's own motet Non conturbetur cor vestrum. Indeed, his Mass is a clear-cut example of sixteenth-century parody technique commonly employed at the time. Material from the model motet can be followed throughout his Mass, beginning with the polyphonic imitative material with which Kyrie opens. The second point of imitation in the motet, at the words "ego vado ad Patrrem," furnishes the material for the Christe. Kyrie II material is derived from polyphony at the motet text "et Dominum assumptus fuero." In the Gloria, at the text "Qui tollis peccata mundi," the polyphonic beginning of part two of the motet appears. At the beginnings of the Credo and the Sanctus, Manchicourt again uses the opening material of the motet. Finally, coming to the last imitation in the Agnus Dei, Manchicourt borrows the material from the final triple-meter Alleluia of the motet, here transfomred into duple meter. Moreover, an added alto voice, making five parts, creates greater climatic fullness to the texture of the Agnus Dei.

Regina cœli lætare is a text associated with the Easter season. One of the motet's more interesting features is a note, written by the composer, which serves to instruct the singers of the top two lines of music: "Canon: Sans souspirer ne chantez poinctz." It is understood to mean: "Leave out the minim rests and do not sing dots." In the polyphonic texture, this will enable the imitating canonic voice (reading the same music as that of the other musical line in the canon) to close eventually with the leading voice. The canonic voices reverse their roles twice during the course of the motet, most audibly at the beginning of part two. Manchicourt cannot wait until the end of this motet to bring out its festive nature, as there are Alleluias appearing throughout the work.

Jubilate Deo is another festive motet filled with hope. The opening notes resound as a trumpet calling all to rejooice in prasiing the Lord. The text of part two advises those who are asleep that they will rise again and see thier God.

Part one of the text Ego sum panis vivas in the Antiphon on the Benedictus at Lauds of Corpus Christi as well as the Antiphon on the magnificat at Vespers for Ember Wednesday. The Alleluia closing part two is an expanded and triple-meter version of the Alleluia in duple meter which closes part one.

Vidi Speciosam is Manchicourt's only known motet for eight voices, which gives it a special harmonic richness. It is also noted for some rather obvious tone-painting, such as the rising melodic lines at the text "quasi aurora consurgens" (rising like the dawn) in part two. This passage is immediately followed by some echo effects, as various voices exchange short musical phrases to highlight the rich and contrasting imagery of the text.

In the elaborate dedication of Attaingnant's 1539 printing of nineteen chansons by Manchicourt, the composer delivers the expected accolades to this patron Remy Roussel, Canon of Tours. However, his words of dedication take on a tone of bold self-congratulation, as he closes with a poem by Gilles de Sermisy (not to be confused with the composer Claudin de Sermisy) in which the poet compares Manchicourt to several legendary figures of Greek mythology, always lauding the composer's superiority. The second of the two stanzas gives the poet's assessment of Manchicourt's art.

But, my Pierrre, let them have a contest, even with Apollo as judge,
   and you will emerge victorious.
Your Music has something great in it, second to no charm, not even to the goblets of the gods,
   If there can be anything more sweet than ambrosia.
These are faithful memorials of your pains,
   And envious ages to come are not likely to have an equal. *

--Lavern Wagner, Professor of Music Emeritus, Quincy University (Illinois)
General Editor, Manchicourt, Opera omnia

*Daniel Heartz, Pierre Attaingmant: Royal Printer of Music (University of California Press, 1969), 178-181.


The Choir of The Church of the Advent
Edith Ho, Music Director
Ross Wood, Associate Conductor
Ivan Hansen, Librarian


Priscilla Anderson Andrei Caracoti
Jennifer Ashe Alice Dampman
Susan Bisson Lambert Beth Guiton
Margaret Hunter Martin Near
Cheryl Ryder  
Laura Ziegler  
Charles Blandy
Glenn Billingsley (also alto)
Allen Coombs *Richard Giarusso
Sterling Lambert Clifford Rust
Kevin leong Douglas Williams

Edith Ho has been Organist and Choirmaster of Boston's Church of the Advent since 1977. Born in China, she received both Bachelor's and Master's degree in organ performance from the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, MD. Miss Ho undertook advanced studies in organ with Heinz Wunderlich and Helmut Walcha in Germany. She attended choral seminars conducted by Sir David Willcocks and other prominent conductors. In the United States she has held teaching positions at the college level, and as a concert organist has peformed on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1994 she received an honorary doctorate from Nashotah House Seminary in Wisconsin.

Ross Wood became Associate Organist and Choirmaster of The Church of the Advent in 2001, after serving as Associate Organist at Trinity Church, Boston, for sixteen years. He is also manager of acquisitions and cataloging for the Wellesley College libraries. Dr. Wood has performed recitals throughtout the U.S. and Europe, including venues such as Notrre-Dame Cathedral, Paris; the National Cathedral in Washington, and St. Patrick's Cathedral and St. Thomas Church in New York. He received his doctorate from Eastman School of Music as a student of Russell Saunders, after undergraduate studywtih Robert Anderson at Southern Methodist University.

The Choir of the Church of the Advent, Boston, Massachusetts is a professional choir with the prime responsibility of providing appropriate music for the liturgy in this Anglo-Catholic parish. In a year's time they will have sung about fifty Mass settings, and over one hundred anthems, motets, canticles, carols, etc., in addition to a body of chants. The repertoire spans all historical periods from Gregorian chants to world premieres. The Latin polyphonic Masses and motets from the Renaissance, however, remain the principal sources of repertoire.

Of greater import than even the scope of the repertoire performed is the high standard of music-making cultivated during Edith Ho's 27-year tenure. Under her direction, the choir's performance has achieved both national and international recognition; several recordings they have made have received critical acclaim. Recent CDs (ARSIS 113, 118, 136, and 146) feature two masses and motets by Francisco Guerrero, to commemorate the four-hundredth anniversary of that composer's death; two masses and a Magnificat by Guillaume Du Fay; and a mass and motets by Thomas Crecquillon on each of two separate discs. The latest CD features Victoria's Requiem for sic voices and Reproaches. Previously the Advent Choir recorded three LPs and a CD: Duo Seraphim: Angel Songs for Christmas on the AFKA label.

The choir's performances have been broadcast on National Public Radio, BBC Radio 3, and Boston's WGBH, among many others. In 1992 the choir made a highly successful tour of Venezuela. The choir was a featured ensemble in the 1990 American Guild of Organists' National Convention, the 1994 and 2003 Boston Early Music Festival concert series, the 1999 American Guild of Organists' Region I Convention in Worcester, Massachusetts, and the 1999 Boston Conference of the Association of Anglican Musicians. In the past three years, the choir has given four all-Crecquiilon concerts, being the first ensemble in modern times to give deserved prominence to this important composer's oeuvre. These concerts were performed in Boston and at the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany, New York. In 2004, the choir presented an all-Renaissance concert in St. Thomas Church, New York City, and a Manchicourt program in Boston.

For more information...

The Advent Choir on ARSIS recordings: