And may well be the only 'liner notes' included in the album Polyphonic Vespers for Saint Michael's and Saint Martin's Days released in 2007 by Schola Hungarica. I'm sure I'm violating someone's copyright but, eh, I did purchase the FLAC download and the reading audience here is perhaps two people.
In 1571, a widow called Anna Hannsen Schuman donated a highly valuable manuscript to the collegiate chapter of Pozsony (at the time the most important city in Hungary not under Turkish domination, now Bratislava in Slovakia), named after Saint Martin. The codex contains 239 polyphonic works, almost all for the enrichment of evening office of vespers. The composers of some works can be identified (Mouton, Isaac, Finck, Morales, Walther, etc.) but most of the pieces are anonymous. The manuscript was actually in daily use: the pieces, in the German-Flemish style of the time, and mostly short, could be interpolated between the movements of the Gregorian vespers on feastdays, clearly selecting them to match the abilities of the singing group available at the time. The annotations made later into the music show that the manuscript was actually used, and this is witness to the developed Renaissance musical life of the church.
This disc highlights two vespers from the collection: that for the feast of Saint Martin, patron saint of the church, and that for Saint Michael, which falls close to it in the calendar. As in the practice of the time, the prescribed Gregorian chant and their polyphonic arrangements were mixed as necessary in the liturgy, so this disc mixes the two, transcribing the Gregorian movements from the extant codexes from the same church.
28th Aug 2007