LABELS: Virgin Veritas
PERFORMER: Ensemble Gilles Binchois/Dominique Vellard
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45328 2
Recently there has been a steady flow of music from the Iberian peninsular – though much of it has been secular in origin. Sacred music has been dominated mostly by the works of Victoria, and so it is good to hear some rarer items. Pedro de Escobar (died c1535) was a Portuguese composer, though active in Spain at the court of Castile and, eventually, at Seville Cathedral. His contemporaries – Anchieta and Peñalosa – also make a welcome appearance on this disc.
The Requiem by Escobar may have been written for the death of Prince Juan in 1497. It is a magisterial work and this performance of it takes a little while to settle down. The Introit, Kyrie and Gradual rather lumber along with the individual chords squeezed out and with little sense of architecture. Again, in the Tract, the agile bass part dominates the texture rather too strongly. But the rich chordal changes of the Offertory are stunningly done, and the clean, settled strands of the Agnus Dei bring clarity at last. Of the works by other composers, Anchieta’s ‘Libera me’ makes the most impact. Its sensuous surface suits these continental singers, from whom we should not expect a cool English sound either as a matter of personal style, or in terms of this repertoire. Anthony Pryer