Stile Antico

Tomás Luis de Victoria: Tenebrae Responsories

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Tomás Luis de Victoria, as much as Palestrina, exemplified the musical ideals of the Catholic Counter Reformation: soberness, simplicity, and text intelligibility. In fact, he might represent those values even more than Palestrina, who forged large, multi-register structures that sometimes obscured the text. There are plenty of recordings, Spanish and otherwise, that emphasize the dark hues of Victoria's music, never more on display than in this set of Tenebrae Responsories for Easter Week. But this version, by the 12-voice English choir Stile Antico (the one that collaborated with Sting on Songs from the Labyrinth) goes in the other direction: that of restraint, clarity, and emphasis on the text. The College of Cardinals in 1585, when the work was published, would have loved it, and you may as well, or you may find it a very British take. Stile Antico breaks up the three sets of responsories (for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday) with plainsong, and ends the whole program with a related motet, conceding, perhaps, that their interpretation is low in dramatic contrast. Yet it has its own kind of intensity. Sample at various points to determine your own reaction, but the music is solidly done.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae
1 2:59
2 2:26
3 2:26
4 3:06
5 2:51
6 2:40
Lamentatio Jeremiae prophetae
7 3:33
Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae
8 3:39
9 4:27
10 4:35
11 2:13
12 3:03
13 4:28
Lamentatio Ieremiae prophetae
14 3:42
Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae
15 3:00
16 3:05
17 3:26
18 2:05
19 2:45
20 2:49
Lamentatio Ieremiae prophetae
21 4:08
22 3:43
blue highlight denotes track pick