Pamela Dellal, mezzo soprano


uncommon intelligence, imagination and textual awareness...



Motet Notes

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina: "Surge, illuminare, Jerusalem"

From choirboy to choirmaster at the Basilica of St Peter in Rome, Palestrina became the greatest champion of polyphony of the Counter-reformation. He was tasked with revising liturgical books to enact changes made by the Council of Trent; changes intended to purge the Roman Catholic Church music of "barbarisms, obscurities, contrarieties, and superfluities". Surge illuminare Jerusalem seamlessly blends true polyphony (at the beginning of the piece) with homophony (at the words ‘et gloria Domini’). The skill with which these two textures are made to flow from one to the other is flawless. The end of the piece is a perfect example of this, as the phrase ‘et gloria eius’ is thrown back and forth before melting into a fully contrapuntal final flourish.

©Ryan Turner