Sebastian de Vivanco: Missa Assumpsit Jesus; Motets

De Profundis/Robert Hollingworth (Hyperion)

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Sebastian de Vivanco Missa Assumpsit Jesus; Motets
De Profundis/Robert Hollingworth
Hyperion CDA68257 70:49 mins

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De Vivanco was a near contemporary of the Renaissance composer Victoria and they both began their lives in the Spanish city of Ávila. Unlike Victoria, De Vivanco is scarcely known and there is but a tiny handful of recordings of his works, principally by Michael Noone (on Glossa) and David Trendell (on Gaudeamus). It is entirely typical of Robert Hollingworth, best known for his enterprising leadership of the group I Fagiolini, that he should have taken his latest ensemble, De Profundis, on yet another intriguing journey of discovery.

The most impressive work here is the Mass which is presented within a liturgical framework with plainsongs and some interspersed motets. The opening Kyrie reveals a well-tuned ensemble with particularly strong bass singers, but in the Gloria and elsewhere the relatively large number of voices, the echoey acoustic, and the dense textures (De Vivanco loved complex canons) result in some murky and somewhat muffled textures. There is more poise in the harmonically interesting communion motet, O sacrum convivium, and in Versus est in lucum De Vivanco even approaches the sublimity of Victoria. However, these pieces are mostly intricately competent rather than inspired, and their dense textures sometimes needed slower, more spacious treatment.

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Anthony Pryer