Friday, February 12, 2016

Music For Lent: Miserere Mei by Antonio Lotti


"King David Does Repentance" by Albrecht Durer
   As we begin the penitential Season of Lent, it seems a good time to look at some the numerous musical settings for Psalm 51, which is traditionally held to have been written by King David as an expression of repentance after he engineered the death of Uriah the Hittite in order to steal his wife, Bathsheba.  
     The most famous musical treatment of this psalm was composed by Gregorio Allegri in the 1630's, various performances of which I have posted over the last few years (most recently here). Last year I also posted lesser-known (but still powerfully beautiful and moving) renditions by Pergolesi and Josquin des Prez.  I'm continuing that tradition this Lent by posting Antonio Lotti's Miserere below, and Jan Dismas Zelenka's setting of the 51st Psalm on the blog Nisi Dominus.
     Lotti Lived from 1667-1740.  He spent his entire musical career (except for a brief period in Dresden from 1717-1719) at St. Mark's Basilica in Venice as a singer, organist and, eventually, maestro di cappella. may not be well-known today (at least to those of us who, like me, are not experts), but he was an important and influential composer and teacher in his day. His Wikipedia entry tells us that

     Lotti is thought to have influenced Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, and Johann Dismas Zelenka, all of whom had copies of Lotti's mass, the Missa Sapientiae.
     Lotti was a notable teacher, with Domenico AlbertiBenedetto MarcelloGiovanni Battista PescettiBaldassare GaluppiGiuseppe Saratelli and Johann Dismas Zelenka among his pupils.

In the clip below the piece is performed by the UCLA Early Music Ensemble, conducted by Alexandra Grabarchuk.