Harry Christophers on Bach's Motets
The Artistic Director of the Handel and Haydn Society talks with host Brian McCreath about the unique expressions of Bach’s motets and directs one of them, Jesu, meine Freude, on The Bach Hour.
On the program:
Violin Concerto in E, BWV 1042 - Janine Jansen, violin, and friends
Jesu, meine Freude, BWV 227 - The Sixteen, Harry Christophers, conductor
Bach Suite (arr. Enrique Crespo from Orchestral Suites) - German Brass
The motets by J.S. Bach are, on the surface, beautiful choral works. But there are contradictions just under the surface. Most of them were written for funeral services, but they communicate joy. They were used during the composer’s lifetime to teach young singers, but they’re fiendishly difficult. And, like just about all of Bach’s sacred music, they were meant for a specific time and place, but continue to resonate with our own time and place.
Handel and Haydn Society Artistic Director Harry Christophers stops in to talk about this remarkable body of pieces, coming up on The Bach Hour.
Hello, I'm Brian McCreath; welcome to The Bach Hour from WCRB, a part of WGBH Boston. The name Harry Christophers has for decades been synonymous with stellar choral performances. For most of those years that work has been taken on through his English ensemble The Sixteen. But since 2009, his explorations of music have had a second home, on this side of the Atlantic. As Artistic Director of the Handel and Haydn Society, he has taken an already exceptional orchestra and chorus to new heights. Along the way, his approach to performing early music – thoughtful, yet always full of in-the-moment vigor, has continued to evolve. Later in the program, he’ll share some of those insights, specifically concerning Bach’s motets, and we’ll hear The Sixteen in one of the most dramatic of those works: Jesu, meine Freude. And you can find a translation of the text for that piece online at Classical WCRB dot org, where you can also hear this program again on-demand. Again, that’s at Classical WCRB dot org.
Dutch violinist Janine Jansen mostly makes here living as a soloist with orchestras, taking advantage of the powerful her Stradivarius produces in concertos by composers like Tchaikovsky, Brahms. But every once in a while she uses the nuance and subtlety that instrument produces in Baroque music. Her 2005 recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons is one of the most vibrant you’ll find, drawing on family and friends to form a chamber ensemble. In 2013 she returned to that model for a series of Bach’s concertos. Here is one of them. This is the Violin Concerto No. 2, here on 99.5 WCRB.
[MUSIC – BWV 1042]
A vibrant performance of J.S. Bach’s Violin Concerto No. 2, performed here by Dutch soloist Janine Jansen and a group of handpicked friends and colleagues, including some from her own family.
Harry Christophers is one of the world’s leading early music conductors, particularly when it comes to choral music. Since 2009 he has carried out much of his work here in Boston with the Handel and Haydn Society.
I had a chance to talk with Harry Christophers recently about Bach’s motets and the challenges they pose for choirs. He says that, to really understand how to brings these works to life, singers have to step out of their natural mindset:
Harry Christophers: For me, you know, when you perform them with singers, it's a question of them actually finding a way around, singing them vocally, getting the words, getting the text across vibrantly, but actually also ultimately thinking a lot of the time instrumentally, because if you do pay attention to having a blend of an instrumental articulation with a vocal articulation, then you can, you know, you can get something really quite interesting through this. I mean, they are absolutely demanding on any singer.
Brian McCreath: Well, and taking an instrumental approach to them kind of gets at another question I wondered about, which is how you interpret these. I mean, they can't just be sort of autopilot, give a downbeat and let them go. You must have to shape them in some ways. And you're saying that if you take an instrumental line sort of approach to them, that's at least step one.
Harry Christophers: It is. You know, Bach's music is intrinsically difficult and the trick is making the breaths work for you. To me, you know, you can take an approach where you have, you know, like a metronome going the whole time you fit into it, but that's not going to work. Every single phrase has an up and down its geography, as is such that, you know, phrases, semiquaver, sixteenth note passages have a contour to them. Now, as singers, they have to really shape that contour. They've got to imagine the the arches of the church and the way that goes, that allows them not only to to get a contour through, but also then within that phrase, to have an ebb and flow of it. Not every sixteenth note is important. It's the direction of them that's important. And so singers have to find a way around that. Once they do that, it becomes easier.
Brian McCreath: Harry Christophers, the Artistic Director of Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society. Jesu, meine Freude is one of the motets Christophers is talking about. It’s a beautiful piece to hear, and it’s also an amazing piece of composition. Bach wrote the piece as a sort of palindrome, with the first and last movements mirroring each other, the second and penultimate movements mirroring each other, and so on. And right at the center point is a fugue that transforms the piece from one with an earthly perspective to one of transcending inspiration.
But for Harry Christophers, while that may be helpful for the listener, performing the piece is a different matter.
Harry Christophers: I often find with Bach that if one starts putting the analysis and the academia on top, that actually you are then making life very difficult for yourself. I mean, it sounds a little bit of a copout. Its interesting, but it makes me think of of Arvo Pärt, and the way Arvo thinks of his music. I remember talking to Arvo Pärt and saying, you know, "You don't put metronome marks, you don't put expression marks in." And he, just in his, you know, his very quiet way he said, "I want people to feel the music for themselves, and find their way into my music," and I thought about that and I thought, well, actually, in many ways that's a bit of a copout. But actually, when you start rehearsing and you do do that with Pärt's music, you find your own way into it. And it's similar in the sense when I talk about analysis and Bach, if you get bogged down in that, then you don't allow the music to breathe. You don't see the sort of, the kind of, the sort of bigger picture. And I think, you know, certainly as a performer, I think that to me, that's a danger.
Brian McCreath: And here is Harry Christophers and his English ensemble The Sixteen, with Jesu, meine Freude, by Bach.
[MUSIC – BWV 227]
Bach’s motet Jesu, meine Freude, performed here by The Sixteen and conductor Harry Christophers.
Even as Bach delved into the mysteries of belief and transformation through the motets, he also wrote music that connects us to the elemental joy of dance. That’s a quality you can hear in this three-movement suite, arranged from parts of Bach’s Orchestral Suites. This is German Brass, here on 99.5 WCRB.
That’s German Brass with a vigorous arrangement for double brass quintet of movements drawn from Bach’s Orchestral Suites.
Remember, if you’d like to hear this program again on-demand, just visit us online at Classical WCRB dot org.
Thank you for joining me today, and thanks also to audio engineer Antonio Oliart Ros. I’m Brian McCreath, and I’ll hope to have your company again next week here on The Bach Hour.
Hear the full conversation with Harry Christophers:
Brian McCreath (BMcC) [00:00:00] I'm Brian McCreath at Symphony Hall. I'm here with conductor Harry Christophers, he's the artistic director for the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston, among other great positions that he's held and made his reputation with over the years. So, Harry, thank you so much for taking some time to talk with me this morning.
Harry Christophers (HC) [00:00:14] Good to be here, Brian. Thank you.
BMcC [00:00:15] Well, you're doing a program with H+H that combines music by Bach and music by William Byrd, and we'll talk about Byrd in a little bit. But the music by Bach that you've chosen largely is motets. There are six of them that we know about that Bach wrote. Why the motets? Why did you want to focus on the motets for this concert? And even more generally, can you sort of help us out with the difference between a motet and a cantata that we know Bach so well for?
HC [00:00:44] Yes. I mean, as you say, Bach only wrote six motets. I mean, they think there may have been others, but they've been lost. I mean, "motet" goes right back to, you know, the French word "mot," "word," but prevalent, of course, in the 16th century, the motets that formed part of the liturgy. Now, of course, Bach in his day, the Mass and indeed Vespers on a Sunday, both required motets. Bach would have used the sort of 17th century repertoire of the Latin motets. So in a sense, you know, why Bach's six motets are called motets, and that's quite an interesting story, because actually the main reason is they are, they're purely choral. They have continuo. They're not like the cantatas. They're not split into arias and with numerous instruments. And I suppose also they reflect back to that sort of "stile antico" style. What is very interesting with the motets is that most of them were written for specific occasions and primary funerals, memorial service types, except for "Singet dem Herrn," which is clearly a New Year motet because it's full of praise.
BMcC [00:01:54] Yeah. And so the subject matter of the motets actually does reflect what a lot of the cantatas are about, which is sort of the transition from earthly to heavenly life or transcendence. And so, but you're saying that it takes place through a different context, that the choir really is at the center of everything in these pieces?
HC [00:02:12] Totally. I mean, most of the motets are for double choir. "Jesu, meine Freude" isn't; that's for two sopranos, alto, tenor, and bass. "Jesu, meine Freude" is by far the longest of them. And then, of course, "Lobet den Herrn" is only for four parts. But the other, as I say, the remaining four are both the double choir. And do reflect, you know, Bach at his greatest. And what's very interesting, I mean, this is the sort of the difference in Bach's motets to the sort of 16th century motets. 16th century motets were purely biblical texts, usually settings of the Psalms or antiphons or whatever. Now, Bach, of course, as he did with his cantatas, uses maybe a bit of a biblical text, but also some texts by contemporaries or, you know, hymns that have been used. And he, it's that interesting feature where he sort of utilizes these different aspects. "Singet dem Herrn," of course, Psalm 150, but it's also one of the other Psalms as well. So he's very clever in the way he, you know, he always did it through every single piece he ever wrote, you know, that is choral, vocal. And, you know, he's very specific about the text he chooses, which I think, you know, that's what sets them apart, really.
BMcC [00:03:24] When did you first encounter any of the particular motets? Did you encounter them as a group or one in particular?
HC [00:03:30] I mean, at university, when I was at Oxford, "Jesu, meine Freude" was the most approachable. I mean, they're fiendishly difficult. I mean, for any, unless you're German speaking, you know, the language is a big part, because you really got to get round these words. And for young singers, they really put major demands. And I was a tenor at Oxford, and my goodness me, those tenor parts. You know, in those days we didn't have baroque pitch, you know, everything was at high pitch at 440 and they were just completely impossible to sing. So it wasn't until I'd left Oxford, actually, I encountered them through Richard Hickox actually, the late Richard Hickox. And Richard used to do a lot of Bach, with modern instruments, and at high pitch. We always came out of rehearsals of those, you know, almost completely voiceless. I remember we did all six motets in one concert and that is some ask.
BMcC [00:04:25] [Laughs]
HC [00:04:27] You know, since then I recorded them, I think I recorded them with The Sixteen back in the mid eighties. I got out that recording the other day. It's very atmospheric and I noticed there was one or two well-known people there. There's Mark Padmore doing the tenor first in "Jesu, meine Fruede." Yeah, they're lovely. And actually at the time they got very well reviewed. And actually recently, earlier last year, I did a concert, series of three concerts called "Bach Unwrapped" at King's Place in London, which is a new concert hall, about 500 seats, where I did them two to a part -- actually, no, I did them one to a part. And that, of course, is a revelation. I mean, you know, there's so much discussion about, you know, whether these are choral pieces or whether Bach envisions them one to a part. We'll leave that that discussion to go on for endless-- but they were wonderful to do, one to a part, because, of course, they give a sense of wonderful freedom. But then in something like "Singet," which was, you know, some of the long fugal phrases are very, very long. Obviously, it makes a lot of demands when you're just one to a part.
BMcC [00:05:35] Well, I was going to say that if they're very challenging for a choir, you must have some very confident singers to take them on.
HC [00:05:41] Yes, but they were good. It was great fun. I mean, here with H+H, of course, we're doing it with the full ensemble. Not massive. I think I'm probably using, with each choir, so four sopranos, three altos, three tenors, three bases. And it will likewise make big demands, because they are so intricate, and I'm thinking principally of the two double choir ones, we're doing "Komm, Jesu, komm," which was a funeral motet, and "Singet dem Herrn," which it's believed was first done in New Year, and of course, was the one Mozart is reported to have heard, and sort of, his ears prick up, and he says, "Now there's something I could learn from." I mean, because it is staggering. I mean, with "Singet dem Herrn," you start with just the two choirs, antiphonally singing "Singet," and you've got incredible fugues, of course, in all these motets that are absolutely dynamic, they're electric, and they're really virtuosic. And it's a real question of, for me, you know, when you perform them and rehearse them with singers, it's a question of them actually finding a way round singing them vocally, getting the words, getting the text across vibrantly, but actually also, ultimately, thinking a lot of the time instrumentally, because a lot of the lines lie terribly well. You can imagine them. And indeed, you know, some of the motets were known to be doubled by instruments at a later time. "Der Geist hilft" was one where the parts survive for doubling by instruments. But if, you know, if you do pay attention to having a blend of an instrumental articulation with a vocal articulation, then you can get something really quite interesting through these. I mean, they are, as I said before, they are absolutely demanding on any singer.
BMcC [00:07:38] Well, and your approach, as you mentioned, taking an instrumental approach to them kind of gets at another question I wondered about, which is how you interpret these. I mean, they can't just be sort of autopilot, give a downbeat and let them go. You must have to shape them in some ways. And you're saying that if you take an instrumental line sort of approach to them, that's that's at least step one.
HC [00:08:02] It is. You know, Bach's music is intrinsically difficult, whether it be an aria or a, you know, tutti choral passage. And it's, the trick is making the breaths work for you, to me. You know, you can take an approach where you have, you know, like a metronome going the whole time, and you fit into it. But that's not going to work. I mean, baroque music is not about that, full stop, in my opinion. We've got, you've got to shape them. You've got to take-- all this music's based on architecture. That's the sort of stile antico feel coming from the 16th century right through, that the every single phrase has an up and a down. Its geography is such that, you know, phrases semiquavers, sixteenth note passages have a contour to them. Now as singers, they have to really shape that contour. They've got to imagine the arches of the church and the way that goes. That allows them not only to get a contour through, but also then within that phrase, to have an ebb and flow of it. Not every sixteenth note is important. It's the direction of them that's important. And so singers have to find a way around that. Once they do that, it becomes easier.
[00:09:21] But the trick is to really know where that phrase is going. And it could go, you know, there's umpteen ways of doing it. You know, you'll find that John Eliot Gardiner's recent recording of the Bach motets is very different from my old one, would be different from Ton Koopman or René Jacobs. We all have different ideas. So to me, light and shade, ebb and flow, knowing, you know, where the phrases are going. And then on top of that, and this is-- you've got to marry the language for any singer, but on top of that, asking singers to score read. And that's also, you know, they cannot be just focused on their own part. They've really got to know what's going on around them. And they've got simple things, a fugue, very simple fugue, you herald in the next entry and you've got to find a way of doing that, handing over the baton to that. But and that's another difficult thing for singers. They've got so many things to think about and look on the page. The lovely thing with H+H Chorus is that, you know, more and more we work together, the more they sort of get that feeling of, actually, it's not just about my part, it's about what's happening around me and make them all listen.
BMcC [00:10:37] Well, and we've heard great evidence of that in the last couple of years. I mean, really, the chorus sounds amazing, but so much of what you just said kind of makes me want to go a little deeper, especially to "Jesu, meine Freude," because there's, maybe not strictly, but something like a palindrome structure to this piece. And you're talking about how singers have a sense of geography and that there's a sense of line that they have to instill into the notes. But in this piece, a palindrome being that the first five movements more or less mirror the last five movements, with this amazing little fugue right in the middle. Do you change the way that you do those second five in order to sort of emphasize what happens in the piece?
HC [00:11:28] No, not really. I mean, the thing with Bach, you know, the brain that's been going on there the whole time, I think, you know-- it's interesting because I'm not sure, I mean, the listener will obviously appreciate that sort of palindrome effect, because once when they're listening to it, they'll realize that actually what's happening at the end is pretty similar to what was happening at the beginning. But I think, you know, for me as I'm performing, one reads about that. And, you know, it's fantastic seeing those, all these diagrams, work out how that exact number of bars are mirrored, that's Bach's mind working just brilliantly. But that must not, in my opinion, upset the way we perform it. We mustn't begin to think academically and numerically about it, because actually what's important is the music. And I often find with Bach that if one starts putting the sort of the analysis and the academia on top, that actually you are then making life very difficult for yourself. And you need to sort of, one accepts it. One accepts it as the genius of Bach. But actually we've then got to sort of stand aside from that. And actually, I mean, it sounds a little bit of a copout.
[00:12:49] It's interesting, but it makes me think of Arvo Pärt, and the way Arvo thinks of his music. And I remember talking to Arvo Pärt and saying, I think the piece was his "Nunc dimittis," I think, and I was talking to him and I said, you know, "You don't put metronome marks, you don't put expression marks in," and just in his, you know, his very quiet way, he said, "I want people to feel the music for themselves and find their way into my music." And I thought about that and I thought, well, actually, in many ways that's a bit of a copout. But actually, when you start rehearsing and you do do that with Pärt's music, you find your own way into it. And it's similar in the sense when I talk about analysis and Bach, if you get bogged down in that, then you don't allow the music to breathe. You don't see the sort of bigger picture. And I think, you know, as certainly as a performer, I think that to me that's a danger.
BMcC [00:13:49] Yeah. Yeah. Well, and so that speaks to a real difference between what a listener might experience and what a performer really has to do to deliver this. It's not going on autopilot and letting it take care of itself. But there is an element of simply allowing Bach's genius to play itself out through the active interpretation that you're giving us.
HC [00:14:09] Absolutely. And I mean, it's something like "Jesu, meine Freude," which is, the text is dramatic. It's that hymn, isn't it, by Johann-- the text is a hymn by Johann Franck. And it's an amazing text that at times, you know, looks so simple. I mean, actually, there are moments in the piece which are very, very simple. And then you have the, you know, the central trio for alto, tenor, and bass, which is one of the hardest trios, solo trios, ever. It's almost, dare I say, it's almost impossible to put together brilliantly. I mean, you've really got to-- everybody's really got to know. I'm putting a big pressure on the trio from hindsight, and they're going to have to do it. But, you know, it is really hard. And I remember myself as a student singer. I got nowhere with it. I just found it so hard. And but as I said before, and I think a lot of that has to do with, you know, today we know so much, much more about the shape of the architecture. And if we have a lot of faith in that and the way the phrases go where they're going, then life is made a little easier.
BMcC [00:15:27] Yeah. So you had your choice of six motets and you knew that you wanted to do something with Byrd. And we'll get to that in a second. But why "Jesu, meine Freude," "Komm, Jesu, komm," and "Singet dem Herrn"?
HC [00:15:38] Well, I wanted to do, I mean, I love, first of all, I love "Komm, Jesu, komm" and I love "Singet," and I had to do that. And they are two wonderfully contrasting motets. "Jesu, meine Freude," I think simply it's the longest. I'm a firm believer in, when we're doing choral-only programs, of having something pretty substantial that the listener can really get hold of. That's not to say that "Komm" or "Singet" aren't substantial. That, you know, they're not as long. And also, it's not in double choir. So a lot of program planning has to do with having variety of texture. And also, you know, if you do a whole program of double choir pieces, then I'm afraid, you know, the choir are going to be absolutely tired out. So you've got to think of that aspect. That also the lovely thing with "Jesu, meine Freude" is that it has so much variety from, you know, the five part texture to the chorales to the trio in the middle, etc. You've got so much wonderful variety going on. I've also, I mean, interestingly enough, I've added, you know, they were, they are for continuo. And it's always, you know, a tricky thing to know what to do. You could have, you know, organ, cello, violone, acting as a through continuo. When I thought, you know, with H+H and having Guy and Sarah there and the cello lines, I thought, well, let's why don't we just have two cellos, and with have the double choir motets, I'll have a cello with each choir and then have the organ and the violone as a through continuo. I mean, there's so many ways of doing it, but I think that should work very nicely, especially because we're performing them in Jordan Hall as well. So we're in a concert hall and not a church acoustic. So therefore the line's going to, particularly the bass line can really help from that, you know, instrumental texture. And it's very good for me when we're rehearsing it because I can also show to the singers sort of the way an instrumentalist would shape that line.
BMcC [00:17:34] Oh, yeah, yeah.
HC [00:17:35] And conversely, to the instrumentalists, how a singer would shape that.
BMcC [00:17:38] Yeah.
HC [00:17:38] So we can get this lovely blend. The main, one of the principal purposes of "Singet," though, is of course it links with one of the Byrd pieces I've got in the program.
BMcC [00:17:46] Yeah.
HC [00:17:46] I'm all for some some kind of vague link. "Singet dem Herrn" is based a lot on paraphrase of Psalm 150, as is Byrd's "Laudibus in Sanctis."
BMcC [00:17:58] Right, right. So I have to tell you that the way you describe your choices, it makes me almost envious. That sounds like the real fun part of, one of the fun parts of your job is just sort of making these decisions. And you can do so much with Bach. You can change this and that. It's still going to have its integrity and you can make these choices. It sounds really fun to sort of think those things through.
HC [00:18:17] It is. And, you know, I like contrasts of style. And, you know, when I thought, you know, I wanted to do Bach and that with the chorus and I thought, well, who should I put with it? And I did toy with Pärt, actually, Arvo Pärt, who I mentioned earlier. But then I thought, William Byrd. Music is completely different.
BMcC [00:18:36] Yeah. So William Byrd from roughly Elizabethan...?
HC [00:18:39] Elizabethan times, 16th century English. And there's a big difference in the nature of the music. Obviously, one's renaissance, one's baroque, but more importantly, both very religious people.
BMcC [00:18:54] Yes.
HC [00:18:54] Byrd and Bach. But Bach lives in this life of relative security, religiously.
BMcC [00:19:01] Yes.
HC [00:19:03] Byrd, not. I mean, you have to remember, you know, Byrd lived for a very long time. You know, the Reformation saw Thomas Cromwell destroy sculptures, buildings, music, everything and horrendous times. And Mary then comes back to, you know, so he renounces Rome. Everybody has to be Protestant, Anglican. Byrd is a Catholic, through and through, the whole of his life is a Catholic. He delights, of course, when Mary comes back to the throne and brings England back to Catholicism. She, of course, you know, wreaks havoc on the Protestants, on the Anglicans. She burns close on 250 people. The bishops, Latimer, Cranmer, Ridley are burned at the stake. And it's absolutely horrendous. Then Queen Elizabeth I comes back to the throne, leaving Rome. So Catholicism is banned. Byrd, therefore, living in constant fear of his life. I mean, it is quite staggering. And Elizabeth, also, she executed close on to 300 Papists and Byrd lived this life of where, you know, he had been organist at Lincoln Cathedral, had been a member of the Chapel Royal. He then went back to north of London, to Essex, to Stondon Massey. And he prayed in private, in secret, recusant Catholics, and this was all secret. And Byrd's masses, his Mass for Four Voices, he wrote three masses, one for three voices, one for four and one for five, and in the concert we're including in the Agnus Dei for four parts. And I'm just doing that with four solo voices because that would have been performed privately. He had a very wealthy patron called Petre, and in the Petre household, it would be performed around a, maybe a fire and the dining room table in private.
[00:21:03] If the Queen's men arrived, I'm afraid Byrd's head would have been chopped off. He was fined constantly for not going to church, not going to the Anglican service. And it was a really difficult time. So there's a message behind a lot of his work. There is a message, this cry for Rome or for Catholicism to come back. And what's really interesting, I mentioned earlier, the "Laudibus in Sanctis" piece, which is a paraphrase of Psalm 150, similar text to "Singet dem Herrn" by Bach. This is a really peculiar piece because this comes from a publication in 1575, which is quite extraordinary. Here we got Queen Elizabeth I, Anglicanism in England, rejection of Catholicism, yet she allows Thomas Tallis and William Byrd the monopoly to print music, to print a publication that is called "Cantiones sacrae." Latin motets. Latin music is banned in the church apart from her own chapel's.
BMcC [00:21:59] Wow.
HC [00:22:00] Her own private chapel, so the Chapel Royal did have Latin music. The only stipulation for the publication of "Cantiones sacrae" is that no motet should be to the Virgin Mary. So no Marian motets, because the Virgin Mary was synonymous with the Catholic Church. So here we have "Laudibus in Sanctis" from the "Cantiones sacrae." And it's incredible.
BMcC [00:22:20] Wow. So for someone in the audience, and they're hearing this alternate-- not a strict alternation between these two composers, but interspersed with each other, music from Byrd that is in Latin and is coming from this Catholic perspective, the particular perspective you describe of a life practically in fear, and then Bach coming from his own religious perspective of Lutheranism in a very secure place, as you mentioned. What is that like for an audience to to go back and forth between these two?
HC [00:22:51] Well, I think it will be absolutely fascinating, because one of the things about William Byrd's music, he was probably the most complex of the Tudor composers. If you listen to the music of John Shepherd or Thomas Tallis, it's in long note values and it's much more ethereal. Byrd's music is really quite complex. And there's a lot going on in it's, you know, in a renaissance way, similar to, of course, to Bach's music, which is so wonderfully complex. But I think it is this juxtaposition. What I've also done with this program was I started with the "Veni creator spiritus," the plainsong for Pentecost. And so, therefore we have this, you know, transition from very, very early single line plainsong, plainchant, going through to Byrd's renaissance, sometimes dense polyphony, and sometimes very, very personal, in this "Agnus Dei" from the Byrd Four Part Mass, to the complexity of Bach. So it's two traditions, two centuries, two traditions. Fascinating to find the sort of the way that it's gone forward. And interesting to see the way Bach actually looks back. I mean, we mentioned much earlier about the sort of stile antico feeling of the motets. You know, that is the him harking back a little bit, but going in a very modern way. And it's fascinating and actually, I think fascinating for the audience to hear a motet, "Laudibus in Sanctis" by Byrd, to actually what is called a motet by Bach: much more complex.
BMcC [00:24:28] Yeah.
HC [00:24:29] And actually one of the other lovely things in the program, I included, I've included a little solo song. It should be for viol consort and singer, but we're going to use just organ and cello continuo and it's "Ye Sacred Muses," by Byrd, which is the elegy by Byrd on the death of Thomas Tallis, Thomas Tallis having been Byrd's teacher and a good friend. And it's very, very poignant.
BMcC [00:24:54] Wow.
HC [00:24:55] And interesting. I mean, I think for listeners to come to that concert to think about Thomas Tallis as somebody older than Byrd, but actually lived through the Reformation, through this big transition. But I get the feeling Thomas Tallis went with the flow. If it was Anglican, he was Anglican. If it was Catholic, he was Catholic, whereas Byrd didn't. He maintained his Catholicism through thick and thin and as I say, in fear of his life.