Some entire movements feature a solo voice with orchestral accompaniment much like an operatic aria. Jerusalem provides tender introspection in the alto’s “Quae est ista quae progreditur,” bold self-confidence in the bass’s “Quae est ista quae ascendit,” florid virtuosity in the soprano’s “Tibi cherubin,” heart-stopping fireworks in the soprano’s “Te ergo quaesumus,” and melodious yet flamboyant drama in the tenor’s “Beatam me dicent omnes generationes.” One of the piece’s strongest sections is the concluding Te Deum that juxtaposes two choirs in intertwining dialogue while the clarion trumpets and strings create a thrilling background texture of quasi-military excitement.
Several of Jerusalem’s responsories in his Matins for Our Lady of Guadalupe have a theatrical flare, which is not surprising given that he was the music director at the Coliseo, Mexico City’s version of Broadway.7 We hear occasional passages that feature the violins in florid figurations and catchy motives; here again we see Jerusalem’s personal touch. He was a virtuoso violinist, and he enjoyed being in the spotlight. One could assume that Jerusalem conducted the work’s premiere, not from the organ bench as Sumaya would have done, but as the orchestra’s concertmaster and principal violinist.
Significantly, if one interpolates Jerusalem’s versos into the Psalms at the beginning of the nocturns, a sense of growth and building excitement results. We first hear voices alone (singing in plainchant) with brief orchestral excursions without any singing (the versos). At a nocturn’s midpointimmediately after the absolution, blessing, and Lord’s Prayerwe suddenly encounter the resplendent sound of the choir and orchestra intertwined in full-sounding sonorities. Here again, the responsories build in magnificence as we approach the nocturn’s end. The first responsory of each nocturn is full and rich, but the “middle” responsories are for a soloist or duet (see again appendix 1). To conclude the nocturn, Jerusalem is careful to return to sonorities full of rich depth and thrilling activityin much the same way that Mozart is careful to end the act of an opera with a flurry of notes and a full cast on stage belting out their lines in frenzied excitement. Jerusalem achieves a similar effect: the third and sixth responsories and the ultimate Te Deum are all full-bodied, and make the most of his choral and orchestral resources.
Historically, Mexico has effortlessly combined the ancient with the modern. One sees it through a stroll in Mexico City, with sixteenth-century edifices framed on either side by towering skyscrapers of steel and glass. In Mexican culture the past maintains a kind of contemporary presence not enjoyed in many cultures. We see this juxtaposition of old and new in Jerusalem’s method of composition; he is careful to preserve the medieval structure of the responsory, even while recasting it in the garb of modern Classicism.8 The medieval responsory began with a large-scale antiphon called the respond, sung by the massed choir; one of its defining attributes was its division into two or even three subunits (often abbreviated Ra, Rb, andif neededRc). After the respond the cantor sang the versicle, V, a single line of text, often from a Psalm, and then the choir returned to sing the second portion of the respond, the portion from Rb on. An asterisk in the chant indicated the critical juncture where Rb began and thus functioned in much the same way that a sign marks the spot for a del segno repeat in modern notation.
Jerusalem ingeniously replicated these medieval features while simultaneously offering those of a recitative and da capo aria that one would expect in Baroque and early Classical vocal music. His sleight of hand is ingenious: he shapes the first part of the Respond (Ra) as a prefatory recitative: just as an operatic recitative will prepare a choral number or aria but never return, so the portion Ra of the respond prepares the rest of the responsory but never comes back. At the juncture (Rb) of the responsory Jerusalem begins the A section of a da capo aria or choral number, with its attendant catchy tune, steady meter, and richer orchestration. The versicle is transformed into the B section of the aria (with an excursion to a different key, a different melodic theme, or a thinner density and texture), and, as expected, we soon find ourselves back at the beginning of the aria (section Rb). In the medieval tradition the versicle was most often realized by a soloist; in his Classical realization of the responsory, Jerusalem likewise reduced the texture at the versicle (and also the doxology) so that a single voice was featured in this middle B section, even if the main responsory as a whole was choral.9
Structure of a responsory
R = the Respond
Ra = the 1st part of the Respond
Rb = 2nd part of Respond
Usually done by the choir
V = the Versicle (a single line, usually from a Psalm)
Usually done by a soloist
Dx = the Doxology (Glory be to the Father & to the Son . . . )
Rab V Rb
Rab V Rb Dx Rb
Can be a da capo aria =
Recitative: Ra Aria: Rb - V - Rb
The borradores (autograph sketches) for the Matins for Our Lady of Guadalupe have been preserved. These, which include some discarded sections, provide a glimpse of Jerusalem’s compositional methods and aesthetic judgements. We do not habitually find a composer’s borradores in cathedral archives since those particular papers were considered the personal property of the composer himselfunlike the performance parts for the individual musicians, and the skimpy conducting score called the guión, which were owned by the employing institution. In Jerusalem’s case, however, the Mexico City cathedral archive ended up with his borradores; after Ignacio’s death they went to his son Pedro, and subsequently ended up with Pedro’s widow, who sold the borradores to the Mexico City cathedral for a handsome sum.10
Several fascinating conclusions can be drawn from careful scrutiny of the borradores. For example, it is evident that Jerusalem first drafted the string and vocal lines, and then later added the oboe and horn lines. The wind and brass parts were sometimes jotted down on empty staves at the bottom of the page, and in some instances they were even written out on a sheet separate from the sketched score, and then appended to the back of the borradoralmost as an afterthought. We also find movements excised from the finished product, such as the soprano aria “Motete 1º del II Nocturno a solo con Violines y bajo a Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (1764)” (Legajo C.c.10, No. 3). It has the editorial decision “no sirve”“it doesn’t work”scrawled on the cover. The sketched score in Legajo C.c.2, No. 5, contains a “Cavatina del Sor. Guglielmi” that was explicitly intended for substitution in Jerusalem’s Te Deum.11 The borrador for Jerusalem’s magnificent Te Deum shows that he initially drafted the work for three choirs plus orchestra; he apparently had a change of mind later, however, for when the performance parts were copied he distributed the music between twonot threeantiphonal choirs.
One striking feature of Jerusalem’s Matins for the Virgin of Guadalupe as a whole is its thematic unity. A memorable motive or melodic gesture from one place often reappearsmuch like a familiar character in a dramaunexpectedly on a later occasion. For instance, a lush contrapuntal web of interlocking triads at the word “aquarum” in Responsory 1 (Vidi speciosam) recurs in Responsory 3 (Quae est ista) at the words “laudaverunt eam.” (See examples 1 and 2.)
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