Santiago a Cappella

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Cardoso,Guerrero,João IV,Lobo,Rogier,Victoria & Anon
LABELS: Emarcy
WORKS: Works by Cardoso, Guerrero, João IV, Lobo, Rogier, Victoria & Anon
PERFORMER: Monteverdi Choir/John Eliot Gardiner
CATALOGUE NO: 9986 7305


The notes accompanying this programme of Iberian music, which dates from the late-16th/early-17th centuries and is associated with the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compestela and Montserrat, ponder the continuing popularity of visits to places of religious significance. With this album the Monteverdi Choir celebrates its 40th anniversary with glorious performances of pieces that may have welcomed pilgrims to their destinations, proving that sounds of such radiance and purity retain their potency regardless of cultural boundaries or passing years.

Perhaps most startling is ‘Mariam Matrem Virginem’ which, not least because of the emphasis on the solo line beautifully sung by Elin Manahan Thomas, sounds remarkably modern. In a sense everything here sounds modern, occupying that post-Palestrinan territory where comprehension of texts is accorded more importance than in earlier, more florid polyphonic styles, and where the expression of emotion, whilst still pious, is more human.


The two compositions by Lobo stand out for sheer beauty, no mean feat in the company of Victoria and Guerrero. The clarity, transparency and sensitivity of the Monteverdi Choir’s interpretations are breathtaking. Barry Witherden