Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Rebelo/Melgás
LABELS: Collins
WORKS: Sacred choral music from 17th-century Portugal
PERFORMER: The Sixteen/Harry Christophers
We are so preoccupied with notions of ‘centre’ and ‘periphery’ in the history of music that these splendid works from Portugal will be marketed as oddities, off the beaten track. João Rebelo worked for King John IV and his compositions have terrific grandeur and range. ‘Qui habitat’ opens with an exquisite duet, ‘Educes me’, with a long unison single note for voices around which trumpets play, and in his Magnificat the textures glow darkly – particularly in the ‘Suscepit Israel’ section. Diogo Melgás is more provincial and conservative but his ‘Popule meus’ has some searingly bitter harmonies and his ‘Lamentacao’ is grand and moving. These performances are occasionally a little weak and the recording can be uneven and fuzzy. But the sopranos are beautifully poised and lively in Rebelo’s ‘In te, Domine’ and his ‘Panis angelicus’ is well-blended and sumptuous. Anthony Pryer