Victoria Requiem ‘Officium Defunctorum’

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COMPOSERS: Tomás Luis de Victoria
LABELS: Phi
ALBUM TITLE: Victoria Requiem ‘Officium Defunctorum’
WORKS: ‘Officium Defunctorum’; O Domine Jesu Christe; Domine, non sum dignus; Salve Regina; Vadam et circuibo civitatem
PERFORMER: Collegium Vocale Gent/Philippe Herreweghe
CATALOGUE NO: LPH005

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Last year was the 400th anniversary of Victoria’s death, and it is a little odd that this recording managed to miss that momentous occasion. Even so, we have here one of the composer’s finest works – the awesome Requiem Mass he wrote in 1603 for the death of the Dowager Empress Maria, sister of Philip II of Spain.

Under the guidance of Philippe Herreweghe, the Collegium Vocale Gent has been singing early music for some 40 years now and their long experience shows. The 13 voices are as finely balanced and harmonious as you could wish, and throughout the recording there is immaculate tuning and exceptional attention to detail. The sense of architecture in the motet Versa est in luctum, for example, is wonderfully judged, as is the microscopic flex of intensity at the exquisite harmonic clash in that piece underpinning the words ‘in vocem flentium’ (‘in a voice of weeping’). Also notable is the lithe and sophisticated rending of the plainsongs on this disc, particularly at ‘Hostias et preces’ in the Offertory of the Requiem Mass. Just occasionally, as in the Gradual, the pace seems a little rushed, and there is a rare lapse as the bass voices come in with a slight bump in the Benedictus. For all its virtues however, there is something professionally poised rather than magical about this disc.

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Anthony Pryer