WORKS: Victoria: Lamentations of Jeremiah: Lamentations for Maundy Thursday; Lamentations for Good Friday; Lamentations for Holy Saturday; Padilla: Lamentations for Maundy Thursday
PERFORMER: The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips
CATALOGUE NO: CDGIM 043
Victoria’s musical settings for Holy Week, the Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae of 1585, are among the most poignant examples of Renaissance polyphony – 37 pieces which include the contemplative Lamentations of Jeremiah.
Despite the penitential nature of these texts and their traditional nocturnal performance by candlelight, The Tallis Scholars produce luminous, free-flowing accounts, director Peter Phillips maintaining the linear momentum to enhance the fluidity of Victoria’s writing and give shape to the music’s architecture. His approach is very different from the long-breathed, expansive performances by The Sixteen under Harry Christophers; and the emotive effect is less dramatic in its avoidance of excessive dynamic contrasts, Phillips preferring to let Victoria’s varied textures speak for themselves.
These accounts have a plangent beauty, which is characterised by the lucent sound and faultless intonation that have been the defining strengths of this choir during the last four decades.Together with the Victoria is a setting by Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla of the Lamentations for Maundy Thursday – a richly-scored six-part work written for Puebla Cathedral in Mexico. The Scholars’ weightless singing in the pristine acoustic of Merton College chapel gives voice to the ‘ethereal balm’ of hope in the darkness. Kate Bolton