Duration: 2'30" |
Ensemble: SATB unaccompanied
|MP3 performance (Chichester Music Pressgang)|
Maria Zart is available on Of a Rose (Matthew Curtis and Tom Corfield), which can be ordered from here.
Maria Zart or Gentle Mary was a late fifteenth-century Austrian hymn immortalised in Obrecht's mass setting named after it. This motet is straightforwardly based on the hymn. The soprano introduces each phrase of the tune, which is then elaborated by the lower voices, with frequent short episodes of imitative counterpoint. The modality and vocal idioms are directly borrowed from the music of Obrecht and his contemporaries, and include such characteristic devices as extremely extended sequences and greatly lengthened scalic runs. Ideally, it should be performed by solo singers.
This motet is suitable for many occasions: with its references to salvation being brought forth by Mary, it is obviously fitted to Christmas and Marian services. However, it also deals with death and the inadequacy of good works for achieving salvation, and so could be used for a funeral or even a Passiontide service.