Missa Conceptio tua is Schola Antiqua's latest CD, released on the Naxos label, the world's largest distributor of classical music. The recording features the world premiere of Pierre de la Rue's Missa Conceptio tua, a mass quite popular in early sixteenth-century court circles, written for five parts and for very low voices. This music is complemented by seven chants on the CD for female voices, the O Antiphons. Completing the recording are the seasonal plainchant Alma redemptoris mater and three delightful fifteenth-century English carols that tell of Christ's coming. The album is available for download or hard copy.
The Kings of Tharsis is Schola Antiqua's third commercial CD. This album features music ranging from the simplest of plainchants and twelfth-century organum to some stirring six-voice motets by John Sheppard and spirited villancicos from Francesco Guerrero. Typical of Schola Antiqua's recordings, much of the music on this album has not been previously recorded. The album also includes music by Leonin, Guillaume Du Fay, Lassus and Victoria. The album is available for download or hard copy.
Long Joy, Brief Languor represents Schola Antiqua's first commercial CD release and features the world's first recording of the Missa Quem malignus spiritus, an anonymous English setting of the so-called "cyclic" mass. It remains one of the earliest known masses to be unified by a single plainchant melody. We supplement this Mass with four plainchants, which fall into their proper place in the Mass with one exception (the Marian antiphon Ave regina celorum). The album is available for download or hard copy.
West Meets East is a compilation of music almost entirely drawn from a single source (Torino, Biblioteca nazionale, MS J.II.9) and most of it never before recorded. The manuscript is perhaps the most neglected major source of late-medieval polyphony in western music history. The music of the "Torino Codex" seems to have originated on the island of Cyprus in the mid-1410s within the court of Janus I of the ruling Lusignan family of western France. The polyphony from the manuscript holds a peculiar sound for the modern ear. Written for three and four voices, this music represents a last gasp at a compositional style known today as the ars subtilior ("more subtle art"), characterized by experimentation with the rhythmical parameters of music, including shifting and superimposed time signatures, offset rhythms, and other (sometimes arbitrary) complexities. The contratenor parts of the three motets on this recording are played by viola da gamba. This album also includes a beloved secular work by Guillaume de Machaut, who has an oblique connection to the Lusignan court of a previous generation. The album is available for download or hard copy.
Theodore Karp (Professor emeritus, Northwestern University) tapped Schola Antiqua for his two-part book An Introduction to the Post-Tridentine Mass Proper (Middleton, Wisc: American Institute of Musicology, 2005). Schola Antiqua provides the musical examples on a CD that accompanies the volumes. The music is all plainchant, and many of the tracks illustrate the wide-ranging variants that were encountered among similar chants in the post-Tridentine repertory. More info on this two-volume set.