Sulpitia Cesis (1577-p.1619)
Mottetti Spirituali, 1619
Cesis' collection of Motetti spirituali is an important body of music both for the generally high quality of the works it contains and for the information it provides regarding performance practice in Italian convents in the early 17th century. Its eight partbooks contain 23 motets for diverse forces: 2 motets for 2 voices, 2 for 4, 1 for 5, 2 for 6, 15 for 8, and 1 for 12 voices. The pieces suit a variety of occasions: 7 deal with Easter themes; 3 are for Christmas; others are dedicated to various saints (St. Catherine of Alexandria, John the Baptist, John the Apostle, and the monastic order’s patron saint Augustine); one motet is Marian in subject, another is Christological, and yet another is dedicated to father confessors. Four works are generic motets on biblical texts, loosely based on psalms or, in one case, taken from the Gospel according to St. John. Indeed, the figure of John may have held special significance for Cesis for 3 of the motets are connected to him (Hic est beatissimus apostolis Iohannes, Ecce ego Iohannes and the Ascension text Ascendo ad Patrem).