- Domine, quid multiplicati sunt, psalm for 5 voices
- Christo ver'huom' e Dio, for 3 voices
- Te Deum laudamus, hymn for 6 voices
- Si tus penas no pruebo, villanella for 3 voices
- Christus resurgens, for 5 voices
- In exitu, salmi passaggiati
- Anima mia, che pensi?, for 3 voices
In the later decades of the 16th century, the musicians of S. Giacomo degli Spagnoli, the Spanish national church in Rome, were charged with the task of pulling together the performing forces for the Easter celebration, the most important festival in the church year. It was a massive undertaking, with performances outdoors on the Piazza Navona as well as in the churches surrounding the square, involving numerous choirs, orchestras, soloists, organists, instrumental consorts, and brass ensembles, not to mention fireworks and cannons. For this two-disc set conductor Albert Recasens and the chamber orchestra and choir, La Grande Chapelle, have put together a collection of choral and instrumental works that would likely have been included in these Easter spectacles. It's a terrifically diverse group of pieces, including massive antiphonal works that bring the music of Giovanni Gabrieli to mind, a cappella works for men's, women's, and mixed choirs, brass fanfares, keyboard solos, and chamber pieces requiring small vocal and instrumental groups. Tomás Luis de Victoria, whose music represented the pinnacle of the Spanish high Baroque, was active in Rome during the time of some of these festivals and almost certainly would have had a hand in their planning and execution. The album features several of his motets and hymns, which are very grand examples of genres that in general imply works of a modest scale. The music of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, the leading Italian composer of the late Renaissance, and Victoria's teacher, is also well-represented. The remaining composers range from the somewhat obscure to the very obscure, but these works, many of them recorded here for the first time, are consistently engaging, and taken all together the album's music is exceptionally lovely. La Grande Chapelle is deployed in various configurations ranging from large antiphonal groups to the most intimate vocal ensembles with one singer to a part. The singers perform with clear, chaste tone, warm blend, shapely phrasing, and obvious feeling for the stylistic conventions of late Renaissance polyphony. The instrumentalists, whether featured in ensembles or in an accompanimental role, play with sensitivity and energy, and are used in wonderfully colorful combinations. What the modern listener misses in hearing this spatially oriented music in its original context is compensated for by being able to savor it in a clean acoustic environment rather than in the midst of the chaos depicted in a late 16th century engraving of the Easter celebration in the Piazza Navona that is included in the booklet. The exemplary performances on this creatively conceived album are highly recommended for fans of Renaissance polyphony.