Saturday, 22 August 2015

Concert 8 November 2015: the funeral of Henri IV

Cambridge Renaissance Voices returns to Holy Trinity, Long Melford, on 8th November 2015, for a concert of continental Renaissance masterpieces, based around the famous funeral mass of the French royal family.

Click here to book tickets from the Theatre Royal Box Office.

Henri IV of France is probably best remembered in history text books for his religious toleration in signing the Edict of Nantes in 1598, which granted rights to the Calvinist Huguenots and ended the French Wars of Religion. But France’s fondness for him as “Henri le Bon” came about more as a result of his death by assassination and the political wish of his successors to celebrate him as founder of the Bourbon royal dynasty.

It may therefore have been to emphasise the continuity of the Bourbon succession that the music performed at Henri’s funeral was subsequently sung again at the next royal funeral, and then again for over 150 years at each such occasion right up until the French Revolution. Ironically, the music’s composer, Eustache du Caurroy, had died the year before Henri and was never to have an inkling of his own immortalisation in the process.

Henri IV lying in state in the Louvre Palace
Du Caurroy rose to prominence at court in 1569 and became Composer at the Royal Chapel in his last years. His Requiem is written in the formal, high style of Renaissance polyphony, demonstrating an elegance and inventiveness in counterpoint, of which Du Caurroy was an acknowledged master. There are some characteristics of the emerging Baroque style, particularly in the 'Libera Me', but the solemnity appropriate to the subject matter recalls earlier, great Requiems of the Renaissance by composers like Victoria, Guerrero and Morales.

The choir is accompanied by Il Musici della Contessa, a group of period instrumentalists (cornetts, sackbuts and curtal). This will be the choir's third concert at Holy Trinity, one of the great Suffolk wool churches of the fifteenth century, which provides a superb, atmospheric setting for these great works of sacred music.

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