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Tenebrae perform Victoria's epoch-making masterpiece with relish and precision
Repertoire: Requiem Mass, 1605
Artists: Tenebrae/Nigel Short
Label: SIGNUM SIGCD 248
The Music Sleeve note annotator Greg Skidmore makes a case that Victoria’s 1603 requiem sits comfortably besides works like Bach’s St Matthew Passion, Mozart’s Requiem and Beethoven’s ‘Choral’ Symphony No.9 as truly great achievements in western music. He’s spot on: Victoria’s harmonic inventiveness and subtly expressionistic word painting was epoch-making, and remains stubbornly contemporary.
The Performance The Requiem is bookended by two settings by Victoria’s contemporary Alonso Lobo, Versa est in luctum and Lamentations leremiae Prophetae, that allow Tenebrae to demonstrate the full range of their fingertip coloristic precision and ease at negotiating tricky chromatic relationships. But the Victoria is quite obviously the superior work: in the offertory, sounds morph and dovetail between voices like a renaissance anticipation of electronic music; this music is thus deeply challenging to perform, but Tenebrae avoid the emotional hard-sell by stressing lines for dramatic effect, and let the sounds themselves do the work.
The Verdict This is a definitive modern Victoria Requiem, performed by a choir who relish its musical and expressive challenges.
Want More? Peter Phillips and the Tallis Scholars offer another Victoria/Lobo Recital (Gimell, CD Gim012).