Cantate Domino a 4

from Cantus Sacriancentus
Composed by Hans leo Hassler
Edited by Scott A. Taylor
Series Editor: Lawrence Kaptein
Voicing: TTBB
Instrumentation: a cappella
Catalog number: AMP 0757
Price: $1.60

This setting of Hans Leo Hassler's motet “Cantate Domino” is an exuberant four'part treatment of the traditional Catholic Introitus for the Fourth Sunday after Easter.

HANS LEO HASSLER (1564-1612) was one of the most prolific and highly regarded German composers and organists of the Late Renaissance. Though Hassler was a Protestant, he spent much of his creative life in the service of German patrons who were Catholic. Hassler composed both sacred and secular vocal and instrumental music, but is today probably best known for his masses, motets, and German songs. A student of the influential Venetian composer, Andrea Gabrieli (Giovanni Gabrieli's uncle), Hassler is credited with bringing the expressive and colorful musical style of the Italian Renaissance to Germany. Musical giants of the Baroque, namely Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672), Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707), Georg Telemann
(1681- 1767), and Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), were undoubtedly influenced by Hassler's compositions and reputation as an organist.

Chant: In this edition a short excerpt from the opening of the monophonic chant precedes Hassler's motet. Including the chant in performance is completely optional, but is included here as a means of giving male choruses an opportunity to experience singing a unison passage of chant within the context of a concert setting. A beautiful, unified, legato tone quality, with attention to the rise and fall of the melodic line (arsis and thesis), should be important rehearsal goals. Singing the chant in this manner also provides an interesting musical contrast with the more articulate polyphonic motet. The entire chant may be found in the Liber usualis.

Motet: Hassler's motet should be performed with vitality and attention to natural word stress. While a beautiful tone quality is important, employing an overly legato approach should be avoided. Since all voice parts are of equal importance, conductors should strive to achieve a good balance between all four parts. The editorial brackets indicate moments where syllabic stress and nuance supersede metric stress. In these places, the first note of each editorial bracket should be given a slight stress corresponding the textural nuance of the sung word. All dynamic markings are editorial and are included simply as suggestions, although it is recommended that some dynamic variation be utilized. Subtle dynamic contrast in Renaissance vocal music is usually reflected as new lines of text emerge (often referred to as ‘points of imitation’). Measure 23 is a good example of how a new line of text might suggest a contrast in dynamics. The metric transition in measure 14 (from duple to triple time) is also editorial. In this editor's opinion, Hassler implies that the tactus should remain the same throughout both meters by writing a hemiola cadence in measures 21-22 where the triple meter transitions back to duple. All the note values in this edition have been halved from the original. The key has been transposed up one whole step. This piece may have been originally performed by men and boys or by men alone. While “Cantate Domino” works very successfully as an unaccompanied piece, the use of organ (to reinforce the voice parts) would also be stylistically appropriate.

TRANSLATON: Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord all the earth and bless his name. Proclaim his promise of salvation from day to day. Proclaim his glory to all nations and his mighty acts to all peoples. (Psalm 96: 1-3)

Scott A. Taylor and Lawrence Kaptein
University of Colorado at Boulder

recording performed by the 2009 Texas All-State Men's Choir
Lawrence Kaptein, Director

Click here to see a sample.

Click here to listen to a recording (MP3).

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