A towering figure in Renaissance polyphony, Palestrina is arguably one of the greatest composers of liturgical music of all time. Harry Christophers and The Sixteen continue their exploration of his work with the fourth disc in their celebrated series.
This album features a selection of Palestrina’s music for Christmas including his largely unknown masterpiece, the Missa O magnum mysterium. Also presented is the unusual hymn A solis ortu cardine—a setting of a chant hymn for Christmas morning. Among composers, Palestrina is unusual in setting this hymn for Lauds on the Feast of Nativity. Most composers reserved their efforts for the more important celebrations of Vespers. The text, written by Caelius Sedulius, is itself unusual in that the verses begin with successive letters of the alphabet.
Alongside the hymns are motets from the Song of Songs. The Song of Songs are among some of Palestrina’s most sublime and expressive works and, as with previous disc in the series, this album includes three of them. Dedicated to Pope Gregory XIII, Palestrina’s style of writing for these sensual texts demonstrates what variety and intensity of feeling can be conveyed with the simplest of means.
Completing this recording are three double-choir motets (a genre in which Palestrina was unsurpassed), Ave Regina, Iubilate Deo and Surge illuminare.
Reviews'The faithful who gazed up at the didactic art of Rome's places of worship did so to the music of Palestrina, whose soaring, arcing lines and setting with conviction of the Mass and other liturgical and biblical texts are wondrously realised in The Sixteen's continuing exploration of the composer.' The Independent
'As always the singing is impeccable and precise without ever being staid; rather, Christophers welcomes a more emotive colour and drama - words not usually associated with Palestrina's brand of contained, classical polyphony.' International Record Review
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594)
Missa O magnum mysterium
6. Agnus Dei I & II
7. A solis ortu cardine
8. Iubilate Deo
9. Ad te levavi
10. Ave Regina caelorum
Song of Songs Nos. 7, 8 & 12
11. Fasciculus myrrhae dilectus meus mihi
12. Ecce, tu pulcher es, dilecte mi
13. Introduxit me rex in cellam vinariam
14. Magnificat Quinti Toni
15. Deus enim firmavit
16. Surge, illuminare
TOTAL PLAYING TIME: 1hr 12mins