04_A new recording of Senfl’s O sacrum convivium (ii)

We are delighted to share news of a new recording released earlier this year. The Czech vocal ensemble Gontrassek, in collaboration with the Hussite Museum in Tábor, Czechia, has included an organ performance of Senfl’s O sacrum convivium (ii) in their CD of fifteenth (and sixteenth) century music for Easter celebrations of the Bohemian Utraquists. This music was recorded in 2020 at the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary in Tábor.

For recordings of selections from the CD click below:

O sacrum convivium (ii) (SC M 76) is transmitted in three sixteenth-century sources: Hans Ott’s Novum et insigne opus musicum (Nuremberg: Hieronymus Formschneider, 1537); CZ-HKm MS II A 29, a manuscript bassus partbook dated c.1556–62 that once belonged to the library of the confraternity of literati at the Kostel sv. Ducha (Church of the Holy Spirit) in Hradec Králové, Czechia; and as a keyboard intabulation in Jacob Paix’s Thesaurus motetarum (Strasbourg: Bernhart Jobin, 1589). This recording presents the keyboard intabulation of this motet by Paix, who adheres relatively faithfully to the mensural version of this motet printed in the Novum et insigne opus musicum fifty-two years earlier.

O sacrum convivium (ii), Ensemble Gontrassek

Questions persist regarding the attribution of this setting to Senfl. In the Novum et insigne opus musicum and in CZ-HKm MS II A 29, O sacrum convivium (ii) appears without attribution, whereas Paix attributes the motet to Senfl. It is possible that Paix, who provides this piece as an example of the Lydian mode, was acquainted with the motet through Ott’s anthology and ascribed the motet to Senfl on the basis of its table of contents. In this table, Senfl is identified as the composer of the anthology’s 22nd motet, Ave rosa sine spinis, whereas the next four motets (nos. 23–6, in which O sacrum convivium (ii) appears as no. 24) are neither accompanied by composer attribution nor explicitly marked as anonymous. Paix’s familiarity with the earlier print is hinted at by the fact that he includes an intabulation of another motet that also appeared in Ott’s anthology: Philippe Verdelot’s five-voice Si bona suscepimus (Josquin’s Benedicta es caelorum, which also appears in Ott’s anthology, is intabulated by Paix on the basis of a twelve-voice reworking by Jean Guyot de Châtelet, and although Ott includes Heinrich Isaac’s four-voice Virgo prudentissima, Paix rather presents an intabulation of Isaac’s six-voice setting). Nevertheless, Paix may have also had access to other sources that no longer survive yet may have designated Senfl as the composer, and therefore, Senfl’s authorship cannot be definitively ruled out.

Novum et insigne opus musicum (Nuremberg: Hieronymus Formschneider, 1537)
Jacob Paix, Thesaurus motetarum (Strasbourg: Bernhart Jobin, 1589)

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