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Lusitano: Motets

The Marian Consort (Linn Records)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Motets: Praeter rerum seriem; Emendemus in melius etc
The Marian Consort
Linn Records CKD694   68:20 mins

The Portuguese composer Vicente Lusitano is actually best known as a theorist. He not only published a treatise in 1551 but four years later got involved with a debate about the exact harmonic classification of a setting of Regina caeli – which he won. These motets come from his Liber primus epigramatum (1555).

As we have come to expect from the Marian Consort singers, their performances are well tuned, with an assured grasp of style throughout and with the sense of direction compellingly sustained. Salve Regina and Inviolata integra are particularly poised, and musically owe a good deal to their being modeled on motets by the great Renaissance master Josquin des Prez. Some of the other pieces (Aspice Dominum) are harmonically rather lame, and their musical ideas are repeated a little too often. In Preater rerum the details of the imitative exchanges between voices are sometimes obscured by an over-prominent second soprano, though the brightness of the texture is nicely enhanced by the upward transposition. The booklet describes Lusitano as ‘the first published Black composer’ though its difficult to be certain, and for what its worth the only reference to his being mixed race dates from 200 years after his death.

Anthony Pryer