King John IV of Portugal: Discography of Joao IV (1604-1656)

[A special greeting to Jerome F. Weber, authority on plainchant and sacred music of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Hopefully other essays will follow. Ed.]

Compiled by Jerome F. Weber

[June 2007.]

João IV (1604-1656), King of Portugal, has a place in the record catalogues by virtue of a single work, Crux fidelis. The present effort is a discography of that work, posted on this website because it has proved so difficult to bring to completion. In The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Second Edition (2001), Rui Vieira Nery lists the work as an uncertain attribution, along with Adjuva nos. He lists two works as certainly attributed to João, Anima mea turbata est and Vivo ego, but none of these three works has been recorded.

Crux fidelis became widely known after it was published in an anthology in Paris in 1869. (In a private communication, Joseph Dyer noted that the harmonic language of the piece is inconsistent with that of the 16th century. He suggested that it may have been created as an antiquarian experiment, not unlike the productions of the Caecilian movement in Germany.) It is the response to a hymn for Good Friday, Pange lingua gloriosi lauream certaminis. (A more well-known hymn for the feast of Corpus Christi, Pange lingua gloriosi corporis mysterium, is a parody of the earlier hymn, sung to a different chant melody.) Examining the hymn in Liber Usualis (1934), page 709 (or page 742 in editions printed after 1956), it is clear that João’s polyphony is a response intended to be sung at the beginning of the hymn and repeated after each of the ten verses. It has seldom been recorded that way, and never with all the verses.

Since compiling the list, I have found a recording (now 13bis in the list) made by David Lawson and Dom Du[n]stan O’Keeffe directing Voices & the Monks of Downside Abbey [8:13]. This was recorded in 1996 and issued in 1997 as Virgin 8 42207 2, titled “The Abbey.” I have the reissue of 2004 on Virgin Virgo as 5 62488 2, titled “Gregorian Chant.” The polyphony alternates with verses 1, 2 and 10 (the doxology is the formula found in the recent Liber Hymnarius). Thanks to Jonathan Summers for the original issue number.

1. The first recording was made by Joseph Samson directing the Dijon Cathedral Choir [timing, 2:37], recorded 13 June 1933. It was issued as HMV DB 4895 and RCA Victor 11679 in set M 212. Only the polyphony was sung. Thanks to Michael Gray for the date.

2. The work was not recorded again until about 1950. Franz Wasner directed the Trapp Family Singers on Concert Hall CHS 1100 [3:50], titled “Sacred Music around the Church Year.” This was reviewed in The American Record Guide in July 1951. Only the polyphony was sung. Thanks to Rebecca Maloy for this information.

3. The next recording was made by Alfred Nash Patterson directing Chorus Pro Musica of Boston on Unicorn 1025 [2:00], titled “Renaissance Choral Music.” This was reviewed in the same magazine in July 1956. The polyphony alone is sung in English. Thanks to Julie W. Fricke for this information.

4. The first recording known to have included chant verses was made by Maxwell Fernie directing St. Mary of the Angels Choir of Wellington, New Zealand on Kiwi SLD 10, titled “Sacred Polyphony of the 16th Century.” This was reviewed in Gramophone in April 1968, where chant verses are mentioned without being specified.

5. The next recording was made by Jean-François Samson directing the Dijon Mixed Choir and Joseph Samson Ensemble on Voix de son Maître CVC 2084, titled “Célébration chorale” and reviewed in Diapason in May 1968. It was reissued as “Concert Spirituel” on Voix de son Maître 2C 061-12595 and reviewed in the same magazine in May 1974. The content is not specified.

6. The next recording was made by John McCarthy directing the Ambrosian Singers [2:21] on Delysé ECB 3200 (mono) and DS 3200 (stereo), titled “Music for Holy Week,” reissued on L’Oiseau-Lyre OLS-R 145 (1972), and issued in the US on Everest 3256 (1969). Only the polyphonic response was sung.

7. The next recording was made by Philip Ledger directing the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge [2:16] on HMV ASD 3450, titled “Music for Holy Week” and reviewed in Gramophone in April 1978. It later appeared on CD in 1994 as EMI Studio CDM 5 65103 2. Only the polyphonic response was sung. Thanks to Tina Hertel for this information.

8. The first recording with verses that I have heard was made by John Hoban directing the London Oratory Choir [7:13] on Abbey LPB 804, titled “Music for Holy Week and Easter” and reviewed in Gramophone in November 1979. The polyphony alternated with verses 1 and 10 of the chant hymn.

9. Another such recording was made by Mark Brown directing Pro Cantione Antiqua [9:50] on 11-16 September 1980. It was titled “Voces Angelicae” and issued as Telefunken 6.35582 GK. It appeared on CD as Teldec 4509-93690-2, reviewed in Diapason in September 1994. The polyphony alternated with verses 8, 9 and 10 of the chant hymn.

10. The next recording was made by Jeremy Summerly directing the Oxford Camerata [2:19] on 19-20 April 1993, titled “Renaissance Masterpieces” and issued on CD as Naxos 8.550843. Only the polyphonic response was included.

11. The next recording was made by Stephen Darlington directing the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford [2:31] on 23-24 May 1994, titled “Oxford Church Anthems” and issued on CD as Nimbus NI 5440. It later appeared on MHS. Again, only the polyphonic response was included.

12. The next recording was made by Martin Neary directing the Choir of Westminster Abbey [4:56] in September 1995 titled “Miserere” and issued as Sony SK 66615 (another number is 63016). The polyphony alternated with verses 1 and 10 of the chant hymn.

13. An instrumental rendition has appeared with Joan Kimball and Robert Wiemken directing the Piffaro Renaissance Band, titled “Los Ministriles” recorded in June 1996 and issued on DG 453441-2 (reviewed in Fono Forum in October 1997) and 474232-2 (2005).

14. Another recording was made by the choir of St. John’s Catholic Chapel at the University of Illinois, Champaign [1:45]. It appeared in 1998. The timing is rather short for the polyphonic response.

15. The next recording was made by David Hill directing the Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge [2:38] in March 2004 and issued on St. John’s SJCR 103-2. Only the polyphonic response was included.

16. The latest recording was made by John Eliot Gardiner directing the Monteverdi Choir [4:06] from 30 April to 2 May 2004, titled “Santiago A Cappella” and issued on Emarcy 986 7305 (reviewed in Gramophone in June 2005) or Emarcy 00289 476 301 0 4 (reviewed in Diapason in July 2005). Only the polyphonic response was included.

To summarize: The polyphonic response alone is on nos. 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11, 14, 15 and 16. Chant verses are added on nos. 4, 8, 9 and 12. Unknown content is on no. 5. Identifying the content of nos. 4, 5 and 14 would be desirable. I would like to add any recordings that have not come to my attention. I have been informed that there are no recordings of local Portuguese origin.