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.
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Description by John Keillor
|2016||DG Deutsche Grammophon||4796131|
|2009||Multimedia San Paolo / Zebralution|
|2007||DG Deutsche Grammophon|
|2001||First Run Productions||201|
|1994||Archiv Produktion / DG Deutsche Grammophon||445 667-2AX7|