SCHOLA ANTIQUA. CISNERSO IN HIS 5TH CENTENARY
On 28 October, 2017. At the Royal Monastery of Yuste
The liturgical recreation of one of the parts of Oficio Divino, one known as Horas Mayores, presents a series of problems not just in its interpretation but due to the selection of sources and the difficulties found to reconstruct what was then common but catalogued as exceptional at present. La Hora de Vísperas, as may be confirmed by preserved documentation, has been of special interest to vocal music and instrumental compositors. From the 16th century on, we may find complete series of psalms for this part of the office or collections of verses for the organ that filled in parts of coral interpretation. The performance technique of the psalmody, the backbone over which the canonical hours are coordinated, had different modalities, depending on the liturgical solemnity and the economic possibilities of each place: ranging from a simple plainchant to the alternative performance of the psalms verses (what is known as alternatim), some of them as plainchanted, others with simple polyphony (fauxboudon) or more elaborated polyphonic verses, organ verses and even instrumental music played by the minstrels. Surely, a performance in alternatim made the afternoon office richer, more varied and solemn. However, one should never forget that what was most important was to preserve the plainchant; the true witness of the Church’s primitive chant and it managed to accommodate its performance in each moment of the history of music.