Signum Records is delighted to present Chapelle du Roi’s eleventh release with the label. This recording offers a selection of music spanning the life and reign of Charles V, undoubtedly the most powerful man in 16th-century Europe, from his early teenage years to his death in 1558.
Charles was a devout Catholic, and maintained a chapel employing some of the most notable composers of the period, including Nicolas Gombert and Thomas Crecquillon, who Charles referred to as ‘the truest Opheus of the age’. Closely identified with the Order of the Golden Fleece, which gave rise to the L’homme armé tradition, Charles V was said to have a musical ear. A great deal of music survives that is associated directly with him and his patronage – a selection of which is presented on this recording.
The music composed for rulers frequently mixed the heavenly with the secular, and a great many pieces were written to celebrate political conquests and occasions within the court. For example, Cristóbal Morales possibly wrote his Missa L’homme armé as an offering for Charles’s wedding to Isabella of Portugal.
Near the end of Charles’s reign, the young composer Orlandus Lassus was just starting his career, and seeking preferment. He offered his secular motet, Heroum Soboles to Charles in the hope that he would join the prestigious Capilla Flamenca. He was unsuccessful, however Charles’s minister, Bishop Granvelle of Arras helped Lassus to secure his position at the court of Duke Albrecht of Bavaria – a musical establishment that was no less magnificent.
The last years of Charles life were troubled by his failure to convert the Protestants back into the Roman Catholic Church, and to lead a universal Catholic empire. His death resounded throughout the Empire, and Don Fernando de las Infantas marked his passing with a setting of Parce Mihi Domine, the best-known of the texts from Matins pro defunctis.