From Darkness into Light
Antoine Brumel | The Complete Lamentations of Jeremiah for Good Friday
Musica Secreta, directed by Deborah Roberts & Laurie Stras
In November 2019, Musica Secreta, the UK’s premier female-voice early music ensemble, will release a new recording based on a major new discovery, the complete setting of the Lamentations of Jeremiah for Good Friday by Antoine Brumel, one of the most celebrated composers of the Renaissance.
Brumel’s Lamentations have been known, performed, and recorded for many years in a much abbreviated form of two verses and the refrain, “Jerusalem, convertere." The additional seventeen verses, which which were found hiding in plain sight in a sixteenth-century manuscript by Musica Secreta’s co-director Laurie Stras, reveal a monumental setting that is both intricate in its detail and imposing in its formal construction; a masterpiece brought from darkness into light.
This complete set of Brumel’s Lamentations was preserved for centuries in a manuscript that was not copied for display, nor for a great noble chapel; it has no illuminations, and virtually no composer ascriptions to lead the curious towards its musical treasures. But its copyist, an obscure friar, was a different kind of master, leaving tiny details in the decorations that leap out at the reader like direct messages from the past. He left another manuscript, copied for a Florentine convent, that is filled with tiny inscriptions and portraits of the nuns, and the music it contains gives us a similar aural portrait of the nuns’ daily life. The second half of the disc brings the music of this second manuscript into focus, with gems by Josquin des Prez, Jean Mouton, and Loyset Compère sitting alongside the anonymous beauty of works that decorated the nuns’ worship throughout the year.