This French release looks like a million bucks, with its detailed reproductions of Botticelli's Annunciation on the cover and its announcement of "Unknown Works by Victoria!" in three languages on the back cover. The claim is justified; the group of Tomás Luís Victoria psalms recorded here were discovered in a Roman library in 1975 and have been discussed since then, but apparently never recorded. There is, however, less here than meets the eye. The psalm settings are simple but unremarkable, generally homophonic in orientation, and in no way on a level with the gorgeous Victoria motets that mark off divisions in the program. For the general listener they're attractive, but aren't likely to fill a major hole in anyone's listening shelf. The disc might be supposed to have more appeal for specialists, but here, too, the performance has problems. The Catalonian ensemble La Colombina sings the music with one voice per part, although the notes freely concede that a larger group would be appropriate, and various transpositions have been made to adapt the music for the voice ranges involved. The quasi-liturgical presentation, with each psalm preceded by a plainsong antiphon, is also problematical, for the psalms were intended for different liturgical uses and do not form a unified set. The sound engineering is as fine as the graphic design, and there is surface beauty in abundance here. But it is hard to know for whom, exactly, this release is intended.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Ad Vesperas, for 4 voices|