Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Kyrie from Missa O Sacrum Convivium: for brass quintet

Arranged by Michael Brown

Winter Park, Florida, United States
Publisher: Wehr's Music House
Date of Publication: 2014

Primary Genre: Brass Ensembles

Palestrina (c.1525-1594) spent most of his career as music director and composer working for various churches in Rome, including St. Peter’s in the Vatican. He was one of the most celebrated composers during his lifetime and his reputation grew in the centuries following his death. His works have never left the repertoire, continuing to be studied, performed and recorded to this day. Indeed music schools throughout the world, when offering a course in Renaissance counterpoint, choose Palestrina as a model.

The vast majority of his output was religious music, including 105 masses. The musical style is the culmination of Renaissance modal counterpoint. It is reserved music, with wonderful technical skill, highly regulated dissonances, smooth melodic lines and great emphasis on proper text setting. The early publications of this music are without bar lines. These of course are always present in current editions. When adhering to bar lines, often lost is the phrasing and flow demanded by paying attention to the text instead of the bar line. This makes instrumental arrangements of his work somewhat problematic. However, still present are the textural variety, seamless melodic lines, modal harmonies and skillful counterpoint. This arrangement, with the exception of some octave displacements in the tuba part, is faithful to Palestrina’s notes. There are few phrasing indications, other than some slurs. Minimal dynamics are included and no tempo indications. From a purely technical standpoint this arrangement is performable by young, undergraduate level players, but requires an advanced group to unravel its musical contents.

Reviewer: Karl Hinterbichler
Review Published January 31, 2019