Antwerp Requiem ca. 1650 — Music by Phillipus van Steelant
The latest recording of the B’Rock Orchestra provides a musical snapshot. If you died in Antwerp in 1650 — and you were important — this music may well have been performed at your funeral.
The centerpiece is the Missa pro defunctis by Philippus van Steelant. Van Steelant was an organist at St. James’ Church in Antwerp. And, as was common at the time, he was also a composer, primarily of sacred music.
His 1650 work is a masterwork of early Baroque choral writing. Most of the choral writing is either homophonic or antiphonic. But it’s beautifully wrought.
The control.X vocal ensemble sings with warmth and clarity. They’re especially effective in the antiphonal passages, each entrance precisely matched in intonation.
The release also includes a Miserere mei Deus for five voices and a Missa pro defuctis for six voices. These are also by von Steelant, and show his range within this limited field.
The Miserere mei Deus makes effective use of strings. Combined with the organ, they set the emotional tone for this plea to God. The 1656 Missa pro defunctis is shorter than the 1650 version. Unlike the earlier mass, there are no instrumental symphonia movements. And the mass movements themselves are shorted, and a little more to the point.
I had never heard of Phillipus van Steelant before, much less his music. This release was a fine introduction.
Antwerp Requiem ca. 1650
Music by Phillipus van Steelant
CantoLX, B’Rock Orchestra, Frank Agsteribbe, director