Victoria: Motets

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LABELS: Gaudeamus
WORKS: Motets
PERFORMER: Victoria Voices & Viols/Andrew Hope
Victoria published most of these pieces in 1572, and although Andrew Hope admits that he knows of no evidence that they were performed with voices and viols together, he presents them in that way. He also applies ornamentation ‘as described by Giulio Caccini in his Nuove musiche of 1602’ – a source concerned only with secular, solo song. Even so, these are some of Victoria’s finest works, written for Christmas, Easter and in praise of the Virgin Mary.


In these performances it is the pieces for the Virgin Mary that make the most impact, as demonstrated in the eight-voiced Ave regina coelorum, with its rich, chordal, polychoral style, where the massive harmonic effects come relatively easily and without too much intricacy of texture. Several of these works, though, are transposed down a fourth, and the buzzy resonance of the viols can result in a bottom-heavy murkiness – as in Beata es virgo. A lighter tone is achieved in the joyous Easter motets such as Pueri Hebraeorum and Surrexit pastor, the latter helped by an upward transposition and the almost dance-like lilt of the singing. And the Christmas piece O magnum mysterium displays a pleasing balance between voices and viols, perhaps not authentic but clearly fun to perform. Anthony Pryer