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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Volume 6, The Sixteen

The Sixteen's seminal recording project of the choral music of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594) shows no sign of flagging with the release of Volume 6 (Choro 16133). Far from it. Italy's most accomplished and advanced composer of contrapuntal sacred music of his era had a vast output, sufficient to fill many CDs. He wrote more than 100 masses alone! The "Volume 6" continues the Sixteen and Harry Christophers' masterful survey.

On the program this time out is the "Missa L'Homme Arme," a substantial work on a theme that in the day was quite popular. Palestrina did two settings of it and this one is very fine indeed! We also get his "Song of Songs" nos. 16-18 and a brace of shorter single-movement works.

They show Palestrina once again as the master he was. And as we have come to expect, Christophers and the Sixteen give us pristine, fresh, glowing performances that reach back through the ages with great understanding and sympathy, and create versions that speak to us volumes.

Perhaps the only question might be, exactly how many volumes of Palestrina do you need? That of course depends on the depth of your collection, but for me there is no question that all six volumes are essential each in its own way, that with the Sixteen and Christophers involved six volumes are not at all too many. The music is too beautifully done here. Were the Sixteen to continue on to ten or more volumes I would feel the same way. At any rate you can get a copy of Volume 6 with no fear that there is anything wanting. Even on its own this is one ravishing disk! The shimmering glow of the vibrato-less choir articulating fully the beautiful part writing is exceptionally moving!

Very recommended.

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