Alexander Agricola: Magnificat

As we continue our journey through the sacred polyphony of the 15th Century, we feature today another piece by Alexander Agricola, his Magnificat which is a composition combining Plainchant and Polyphony in the style of the Burgundian School with orchestral accompaniment in this performance.

Mircologus 2 shares some commentary on Agricola’s style on his YouTube channel:

Agricola’s music was first transmitted in quantity in the 1490s. His most characteristic works are his songs and secular instrumental pieces, with over 80 surviving. They are overwhelmingly in three parts, and frequently quote songs by other composers, often in oblique fashion. Agricola’s series of instrumental variations on De tous biens plaine is a particularly conspicuous example of his flair for variety and ornamental figuration. Most of Agricola’s motets, of which he wrote over two dozen, are in a compact and straightforward style. The succinct three-voice Si dedero was the most-copied work of its generation, as well as a popular model for other settings. Agricola’s stature was consummated with Petrucci’s publication of a dedicated volume of his masses in 1504, and it is in his eight mass cycles that Agricola’s unusual sense for counterpoint shows most clearly. His Missa In minen sin is one of the largest cycles of the era, a virtual encyclopedia of motivic variation. Agricola did not show the concern for text championed by Josquin, nor the feel for open textures pioneered by Obrecht. His counterpoint is extremely dense, with a fantastical feeling developing upon the “irrationality” of Ockeghem’s designs. Agricola’s larger settings are consequently some of the most intricate and inventive of the era, combining an abundance of contrapuntal ideas with a seemingly intentional arbitrariness into a web of shifting musical connections.

Every day at 5 P. M. Rome time, FromRome.Info features a selection of sacred music by Catholic Composers throughout the ages, to edify our readers and expand their knowledge of the riches and treasures of Catholic liturgico-musical tradition.

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