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Tomás Luis DE VICTORIA (1548-1611)
Et Iesum - Motets, Antiphons and Mass parts

Et Iesum [01:57]
Duo Seraphim clamabant* [03:27]
O Decus Apostolicum [02:53]
Missa Quam pulchri sunt: Domine (vihuela solo) [01:14]
Senex puerum portabat [03:00]
Magi viderunt stallam [03:17]
Domine, non sum dignus [03:20]
Domine, non sum dignus (vihuela solo) [04:25]
O magnum mysterium [03:11]
Missa O magnum mysterium:
Sanctus* [01:55]
Benedictus* [01:51]
Agnus Dei* [01:34]
Ne timeas, Maria [03:38]
Missa Gaudeamus: Pleni sunt (lute solo) [01:29]
Iste Sanctus [02:09]
Estote fortes in bello* [02:32]
Alma redemptoris mater [05:55]
Missa Gaudeamus: Domine Deus (vihuela solo) [01:17]
O quam gloriosum [04:09]
Doctor bonus, amicus Dei [03:13]
Missa Quam pulchri sunt: Crucifixus (vihuela solo) [02:33]
Pueri Hebraeorum [02:37]
Salve Regina [04:11]
Carlos Mena, alto; Francisco Rubio Gallego, cornet (*); Juan Carlos Rivera, lute, vihuela
Recorded in October 2003 at Iglesia Parroquial Sant Corneli of Collbató, Barcelona, Spain DDD
HARMONIA MUNDI HMI 987042 [66:00]


It is taken for granted, but sometimes it is worth reminding ourselves just how lucky today's music lover is. He has access to all kinds of music, can go to concerts, buy records - and often he can even choose between several interpretations of his favourite pieces of music. Compare this with the 16th century: a lot of brilliant music was written, but how many people were able to hear it?

That some of the best music could be heard outside the churches or courts for which it was composed was due to the fact that it was adapted to be played on one or several musical instruments. In particular lute players were active in this field. Sometimes vocal pieces were performed by instruments alone, sometimes one vocal part was preserved while the other parts were set for one or more instruments. On this disc the music of one of the most important composers of sacred music around 1600, Tomás Luis de Victoria, is performed in adaptations for voice and lute, interspersed with some intavolations for lute or vihuela solo.

In the liner notes Pepe Rey refers to two contemporary sources which reflect this practice from which about a third of the pieces on the programme have been taken. The others have been created by the performers themselves, 'recreating' as it were the practice of Victoria's time.

One peculiar feature of this recording is the use of the cornet in some of the items. This seems a little out of place here, since the combination of voice and lute or vihuela is in particular appropriate for domestic performances, whereas the cornet is much more an instrument to be used in a church venue. In the items where the cornet is used - mainly where the upper part is too high for Carlos Mena's voice - the balance between the three participants isn't entirely satisfying.

If one knows the motets and mass sections recorded here in their original form - and some items on this disc are pretty well-known - one needs to get used to these 'reductions'. But it has to be said that the character of the originals is maintained quite well. And Carlos Mena seems to be well aware of the content of the pieces he sings. The exaltation of some of them comes through quite nicely, like the motet 'O magnum mysterium'. Although in general we don't find a very close relationship between text and music in Victoria's oeuvre - there are no madrigalisms of any kind - sometimes a line is eloquently illustrated in the music, like "certavit usque ad mortem" (strove even unto death) in the motet 'Iste Sanctus', where the upper part goes down quite deeply. Carlos Mena uses his chest register to great effect here.

This is a fine recording which sheds light on a wide-spread practice in the renaissance which hasn't been given much attention to.

Johan van Veen

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