MusicWeb International reviews more Classical recordings than any one else.

53,555 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere
Normal service resumed


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas


Recordings of the Month


Beethoven String Quartets

Produzioni Armoniche

Seven Symphonic Poems

Shostakovich VC1 Baiba Skride
Tchaikovsky Symph 5 Nelsons

Vivaldi Violin Concertos



Beethoven Piano Concertos

Stradal Transcriptions

LOSY Note d’oro

Scarlatti Sonatas Vol 2

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Roma Æterna
Francisco GUERRERO (1528-1599)
Regina Cæli for four voices [2:30]
Giovanni Pierluigi da PALESTRINA (1525-1594)
Missa Papæ Marcelli for six voices [35:01]
Tu es Petrus for six voices [3:06]
Tomás Luis de VICTORIA  (1548-1611)
Missa O quam gloriosum for four voices [25:06]
Giovanni Pierluigi da PALESTRINA
Sicut cervus/Sitivit anima mea for four voices [5:39]
New York Polyphony
Tim Keeler (countertenor), Andrew Fuchs (tenor), Jonathan Woody (bass-baritone)
rec. August 2015, St Cecilia Cathedral, Omaha, USA.
Reviewed in surround.
BIS BIS-2203 SACD [72:07]

Palestrina preceded Victoria as chapel master of the Roman Seminary. Apart from this the younger composer seems to have little connection with the elder and indeed on the strength of the two main works performed on this disc, Victoria was the more cosmopolitan and less passionate in style. The four singers of New York Polyphony along with their three colleagues listed above produce some of the purest and most beautiful sounds I have ever heard in this music. The marketing paragraph reproduced in the liner notes refers to them being regarded as one of the finest in the world, I confess their name was entirely new to me but on the strength of this remarkable display of musicianship and virtuosity they seem to justify the description. The strength and unity of their approach combined with absolute accuracy of pitch makes this disc an essential purchase however many other performances you may own of the Palestrina Missa in particular.

The meticulously detailed BIS track listing shows exactly where plainchant propers are interpolated in the Missa Papæ Marcelli and Motets in the Victoria. This provides the fuller perspective for listening that the composers would have expected. Ivan Moody's brilliantly written liner notes help us, listening as we are to music from close-on half a millennium ago, to place these stunningly beautiful pieces in their context. Moody also tries his best to justify the curious album title 'Roma Æterna'; difficult because it refers to the lasting nature of the city despite changes in culture and politics, and this music is all from a short time in the late 16th century and has only theological eternity in mind.

BIS always make splendid recordings, but the acoustic of the St Cecilia Cathedral seems to have helped this recording to even greater clarity and spaciousness than normal. The 150 years of history behind St Cecilia's in Omaha seems to have culminated in acoustic expertise being brought to bear during the late 20th century which may be the reason this disc sounds so good. I cannot help but add a tale from their website about the collection of monies when cathedral reconstruction was needed around 1866. Apparently the efforts of one Father Kelly were remarkably successful partly because of this incident: "Entering a dance hall in a mining camp one day, one of the men demanded to know what he (Father Kelly) was doing there. 'I am collecting for a new cathedral in Omaha,' was the reply. Thereupon the Western man doffed his hat, drew his trusty six-shooter, and accompanied the astonished priest around the room, thus obtaining more than a hatful of money through this 'persuasive' method." Modern cathedral fundraising would probably prefer to eschew this approach!

Dave Billinge



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger