Ribera’s Magnificats & Motets performed by De Profundis

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COMPOSERS: Ribera
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Ribera
WORKS: Magnificats & Motets
PERFORMER: De Profundis/David Skinner
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 68141  

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Bernadino de Ribera (not to be confused with Antonio de Ribera) worked at Avila and Toledo in the 16th century. He was a teacher of Tomás Luis de Victoria, and most of his works survive in a fragmentary state in a mutilated large manuscript from Toledo. For this recording many pieces have been reconstructed, and so all the items, except Beata mater on track three, are first recordings. It is good, too, to see that this project has been given expert support by the musicologist Bruno Turner.

The De Profundus choir is a large all-male group. This tends to make the sound rather solid and, with the relatively low performance pitch and echoey acoustic, the words are sometimes difficult to catch and the textures become ‘muddy’ (Vox in Rama). On the plus side the singers conjure up some exultant moments (Regina caeli), and make the most of some unusual effects (the chromatic slides at the name ‘Absalon’ in Rex autem David). No one else is likely to cover this problematic repertory and some of it deserves to be much better known (Conserva me, for example, is an impressive and substantial work).

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Anthony Pryer