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Tomás Luis de VICTORIA (1548-1611)
Salve regina a 5 (1583) [4:48]
Missa De Beata Maria Virgine a 5 [30:22]
Missa Surge propera a 5 [28:58]
Giovanni Pierluigi da PALESTRINA (1525/6-1594)
Surge, propera amica mea, et veni a 4 [3:48]
Westminster Cathedral Choir/Martin Baker
rec. October 2010, Westminster Cathedral, London, England
Sung texts and English translations included in booklet
HYPERION CDA67891 [67:58]

Experience Classicsonline

The 400th anniversary of the death of Tomás Luis de Victoria fell in 2011. This release is another in Hyperion’s successful survey of the composer’s music.

Spanish-born Victoria was one of Europe’s great Renaissance composers. Principally admired for his masses and motets he devoted his writing exclusively to sacred music in Latin. Trained in Rome it is thought that Victoria may have studied there with Palestrina the Italian master. He certainly attended Palestrina’s funeral in 1594.

Gradually Victoria’s music is becoming known by a wider audience; no longer the exclusive preserve of early music connoisseurs. The BBC 4 television series God’s Composer presented by the ubiquitous Simon Russell Beale and performed by The Sixteen under Harry Christophers has helped to broaden its appeal.

Over the last three decades the Westminster Cathedral Choir (founded in 1903) has made a series of Victoria CDs. Winning prestigious awards the most notable has been their 1983 recording of Victoria’s Ave maris stella; O quam gloriosum under the direction of David Hill on Hyperion CDA66114. The male voices of the Westminster Choir are directed by Martin Baker; their current master of music.

The release opens with the Salve regina a 5. In veneration of the Virgin Mary this is a Marian antiphon intended for the church calendar of Trinity until Advent. The first mass on the release, the Missa De Beata Maria Virgine a 5 was published in 1576 at Venice. This is a ‘paraphrase mass’ based on the twelfth century Gregorian plainsong Mass IX (Cum jubilo) and Credo I. The Mass IX is designed for use at Solemnities and Feasts of Our Lady. Victoria’s setting uses extensive melodic material from the Gregorian plainsong. Victoria’s Missa Surge propera a 5 published in Rome in 1583 is the final work here. This is a ‘parody mass’ that Victoria based on Palestrina’s motet Surge propera; which is also included. Palestrina had been inspired to use the Hebrew biblical text from the Song of Songs a collection of poetry relating the divine to human love. Incidentally four of Victoria’s masses use motets that drew on this source.

London’s Westminster R.C. Cathedral has a reverberant acoustic that eminently suits this music. Using different sound engineers to the 1983 award-winning recording the closely recorded voices caused some slight blurring in the forte passages. This is glorious singing with impressive unison. Heavenly-sounding boy trebles and characterful men’s voices all blend splendidly. Conductor Martin Baker drives the music forward with considerable vigour ensuring a slightly hard but utterly appropriate edge. Not looking for the pin-point precision that some choral groups strive for Baker is quite absorbing in what emerges as a strong sense of religious fervour.

Michael Cookson
























































































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