Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

O bone Jesu, motet for 6 voices (from Motets Book III)

    Description by John Keillor

    With boundless piousness and sincerity, this six-voice sacred motet begs Jesus to protect the performers from separation from God. It is not common to hear a work by this Roman composer that makes a request of this sort, but the tone of the music is in no way disrespectful or callow. Palestrina was an exceptionally pious man, enough so that when the Council of Trent issued the edict that inappropriate texts or music should be expunged from the musical body of the Catholic Church, he was put in charge, overseeing the operation. Though he was a conservative composer (using six voices for a sacred motet such as this one is a rarity in his music), his talent and craft were peerless and even casual listeners will immediately detect his artistic strengths upon hearing this work. While many composers of his day wrote dazzling feats of vocal counterpoint, O bone Jesu sounds simple enough that nothing impressive seems to be happening. However, it also maintains the interest of the composer on the grounds of its seamless articulation of the faith it represents. Turgid in comparison to Isaac or Brumel, Palestrina is nonetheless unmatched in clarity. His music is unique and singular, while other composers were synthetic and plural in approach, but Palestrina's immutable persuasiveness comes from a more perfectly articulated belief in music as a way to glorify God than is found in any other artist of his day. Though there are many things to listen for when studying the wide variety of vocal music in the sixteenth century, this composer comes first with regard to sacred vocal music and this motet is an excellent example of why this is the case.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4796131
    2014 Teldec 2564641038
    2009 Multimedia San Paolo / Zebralution
    2007 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2001 First Run Productions 201
    2000 Tactus 521602
    1999 Ricercar 008029
    1998 Nimbus 1758
    1994 Archiv Produktion / DG Deutsche Grammophon 445 667-2AX7
    1992 Nimbus 5100
    PHD Music 70006
    Ricercar 8029