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THE FLOWERING OF GENIUS
Francisco GUERRERO (1528-1599)
1. Ave Virgo sanctissima 4.39

Thomas TALLIS (1505-1585)
2. Suscipe quaeso 9.43

Tomas Luis de VICTORIA (1548-1611)
3. O vos omnes 5.00
4. Vere languores 4.47
5. O Domine Iesu Christe 3.34

Thomas TALLIS

6. Angus Dei from mass "Puer natus" 8.49

Tomas Luis de VICTORIA (1548-1611)
7. Super flumina Babylonis 4.56
8. Vadam et circuibo 8.48
9. Laudate Dominum omnes gentes 3.05

John SHEPPARD (1500-1558)
10. Verbum caro 6.50

Philippe de MONTE (1521-1558)
11. Super flumina Babylonis

William BYRD (1543-1623)
12. Quomodo cantabimus 6.07
The Sixteen, Harry Christophers
Rec: September 1989, 1996, September 1997, January 1998.
CORO COR 16001 [73.53]


It can be very difficult to find a thread that holds together an anthology of renaissance music. Performers often record collections of music by a single composer; they sometimes make recordings based around themes, such as food, animals or specific locations. Other times, they create recordings focusing on a specific time, such as this one.

It can be interesting to hear music from a limited time period, to discover the relations between different composers. This disc, the first release on the new label Coro, founded by The Sixteen and its leader Harry Christophers, focuses on what Christophers calls "an extraordinary turning point in history and the musical fruit it bore…" The summer of 1553, which saw the preparation for the return of England to Catholicism, reversing the changes of the Reformation. This was the time when Mary Tudor wed the heir to the Spanish throne, Prince Philip.

This disc, which is a collection of previously released works from various recordings, includes vocal works by English and Spanish composers of this time, showing the similarities and relationships between their music. Included are works by such well-known English composers as William Byrd, Thomas Tallis and John Sheppard, together with Spanish composers, Francisco Guerrero, Tomas Luis de Victoria and Philippe de Monte.

The works on this recording are all sacred, a cappella vocal works, written in Latin. The general tone is one of meditation and spirituality – this is not the more joyous, festive music of the Renaissance. The lush vocal parts are sung with great subtlety by the choir, which again affirms its qualities, showing that it is one of the best for this type of repertoire. The textures are rich and many-layered; whether in the slow, profound Agnus Dei from Tallis’ mass Puer Natus, or the more haunting Super flumina Babylonis, by Victoria. The tone colours are always vibrant and exciting, as in Sheppard’s Verbum caro, which combines elements from Gregorian chant with later Renaissance vocal techniques.

This wonderful disc bodes well for the future of this new label. The Sixteen have always been one of the premier groups for this type of music, and show on this disc their quality and energy. This fine recording is refreshing and delightful, and will please any lover of Renaissance vocal music.


Kirk McElhearn


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