New York Polyphony

Francisco de Peñalosa: Lamentationes

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The music of Spanish composer Francisco de Peñalosa, a generation older than Morales and 75 years or more ahead of Victoria, has only recently been rediscovered for the most part. On the evidence here it's wonderful, and casual listeners will be delighted to find that the dark sound characteristic of Spanish sacred music was very much present even at this early date. Sample the Lamentationes Jeremiae (Lamentations of Jeremiah), which fits the low male voices of New York Polyphony nicely. This quartet necessarily sings the music with one voice per part, which isn't ideal; Renaissance choirs were demonstrably larger. However, in this gloomy, intimate music the approach works reasonably well, and the ensemble is to be credited for taking on unfamiliar repertory. There are also two sections of a Peñalosa mass, motets by this composer, a pair of works by Francisco Guerrero, and a Stabat mater by the even earlier and more obscure Pedro de Escobar. BIS engineers have always presented this group effectively; here they choose the acoustically appropriate environment of Princeton Abbey with strong results. Recommended.

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