Victoria: Requiem; Lamentations of Jeremiah; Tenebrae Responsories

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LABELS: Gimell
WORKS: Requiem; Lamentations of Jeremiah; Tenebrae Responsories
PERFORMER: The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips

Victoria is known for his frank expression, rich textures, economy of material and simmering exuberance. The Tallis Scholars convey the beauty of the composer’s unique language, but not its liveliness, though this might be expected to be a scarce quality in Holy Week and Requiem text settings which dominate this collection. 
Taking his cue more from the words than the music, Phillips delivers subtle, sombre readings which bring out Victoria’s poignancy and mysticism, particularly in the six-part Lamentations. Here the vocalists colour the words to perfection, each hue deftly captured by this disc’s sound engineers. Sections in which ascending tonal motion expresses hope are, however, plunged into shadow by Phillips’s deliberate tempos. Sluggishness – in tempo and word response – makes lethargic even movements whose message of salvation call for a brisker pace, for instance in the Requiem’s ‘Lux aeternum’. Berta Joncus