Choralis Constantinus vs Lyon Contrapunctus
  • Between these two famous collections of Renaissance polyphonic propers for the major feasts of the year, what are the strengths and weaknesses of each collection. Which is thought more highly of, more beautiful, more practical? Any thoughts to share for someone new to both books? Additional question is, are there any other noteworthy books of polyphonic or part music propers for major solemnities? Aside from Byrd's Gradualia.
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  • I had a look at one of Feudol's (possibly illegal) uploads of the latter on IMSLP (and I say that because of what Feudol did to DIAMM a few years ago, which was appalling). It's quite odd: at first glance, it seems that the tenor voice is the plainchant melody, while Soprano, Alto and Bass are in polyphony. Is this in fact a collection of SAB polyphony. Could anyone shed further light on this?
  • CGM
    Posts: 527
    A helpful article, according to OUP:

    Lipphardt, Walter. Die Geschichte des mehrstimmigen Proprium Missae. Heidelberg, Germany: F. H. Kerle, 1950.

    A useful unique survey of the polyphonic Proper of the Mass. After a brief overview of plainchant Propers, the author surveys the Winchester Troper, the Magnus Liber Organi, the Trent Codices and Jena manuscripts, Isaac’s Choralis Constantinus, the Lyon “Contrapunctus,” the Proper collections of Georg Rhaw, and other works up to the 19th century. Indices of composers and individual movements.
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  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,797
    I encountered this thread while doing some research...I just transcribed one from the Lyons set for cpdl (the hard way, from the Reymund Schlecht transcription and the original choirbook, not from ripping off my old choirmate David Sutherland). The Contrapunctus is literally that; the 3 voices in polyphony are to be sung against the tenor in equal breves. At least in the case of Beati mundo corde, it's actually an ATTB texture; the altus goes down to d and up to g', so a moderately high tenor part. The choirbook is interesting in that the tenor is marked "Chorus", which suggests maybe multiple performers for the chant and possibly soloists for the other parts.

    The 16th century seemed to regard the chant as almost as sacrosanct as the words. Before 1600, most of the Proper settings I've seen (these plus Le Maistre and the Barbarini Lupus settings at St. Gallen) are cantus firmus settings. Some later settings (Knöfel, and some of the settings ripped off by Barbarini Lupus in his published books) use the chant more freely. But it's not until near 1600 that freely-composed Propers become common. I'm working with the Rogier Michael Introits right now. which are a bit like Lassus.

    Lipphardt has a useful checklist of publications with Propers, but it's fairly incomplete and not terribly specific, and not all the works listed have survived in complete form.

    Which are better: Isaac or Lyons? They're both a little stiff. I think Isaac gets done at the expense of the competition because "It's Isaac". And there isn't really a performing tradition of any of these.
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  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,397
    Corteccia also made a collection of strict c.f. settings: Optimam partem (a 4th lower will suit mixed choirs) fills a gap in the Year C repertory.
    It's true that we often don't take adequate account of anon.'s unevenness as a composer, but I can't help feeling the c.f. is a less satisfactory approach in general than Isaac's. It might be interesting to have a whole pericope to compare: I'll start with the Candlemas introit, and there's now a Lyons Contrapunctus page at CPDL.
    "Chorus" here looks to me like German Choral, just the 'tune'. As we sing in the Lob des hohen Verstands "Aber Kukuk singt gut Choral." On the other hand, in the improvisation tradition still practiced in Lyons, it would of course be safer to throw all the ripienists on the one voice.
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  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,397
    OK, just one example (and we don't know how many anon.'s are represented in Lyons) but there's no doubt in my mind Isaac's Suscepimus handily beats Lyons 1528.
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