Program Book 1999-2000 page 13
Concert II Program Notes

Josquin Desprez was born in the northern France/Belgium area in c. 1440. He was the most important musical figure of his time. Just as Beethoven summarized the accomplishments of the Viennese school. Josquin summarized the accomplishments of the preceding generations of Dufay and Ockeghem. He is on the border between the Middle Ages and the modern world. His works include 18 masses, 100 motets, 70 chansons, and many other secular works.

This program features a selection of his motets and two parts of his Missa Pange lingua. Missa Pange lingua is a paraphrase mass (although Josquin wrote such embroidered lines that it is sometimes impossible to tell whether the melody is being paraphrased or not) based on Pange lingua, a hymn of praise to Jesus Christ. Typical of paraphrase versus the earlier cantus firmus technique, in the Missa Pange lingua, Josquin treated all four voices as equals. There is no longer one central voice as the main carrier of the material on which the mass is based. The material is spread over all four of the voices. It is a late work by Josquin, possibly his last mass setting, and was not published until 1539, nearly 20 years after Josquin's death. This program features two parts of the mass, the Gloria and the Sanctus.

The motet originated around circa 1200 as an addition of text to a piece of organum. The text was in Latin, and was sacred and related to the chant to which it was added. With Josquin in the 16th century, the motet became a main vehicle of expression for composers. The motet Absalon, fili mi is a lament, which must have been written to commemorate the death of someone important. (Absalon revolted against David and died in battle. In this motet, David is lamenting Absalon's death.)

The "ideal" sound in the 16th century was four or more voices of similar character in homogeneous tone color, of equal importance, thus the saxophone quartet is a very suitable candidate to perform this music. There was an effort made in the 16th century toward more easily understandable text, yet at the same time the rise of instrumental music shows the urge to create musical forms complete as musical entities, not needing support of words. During the 16th century, instrumental music began to be accepted on a more equal basis with vocal music. One of the roots of growth in instrumental music was the transcription of preexisting vocal material.

Francis Poulenc (1899-1962) was one of the most multi-faceted and most loved members of Les Six, the French composer group of the 1920's. In 1935, he composed the music to Edouard Bourdet's play La Reine Margot, about Margot de Valois, wife of the man who in 1594 was

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Amherst Saxophone Quartet Program Book Program Notes