Victoria: The Mystery of the Cross

Victoria: The Mystery of the Cross

by Harry Christophers


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The meeting on this disc between the Spain-to-Rome transplant Tomás Luis de Victoria and the small British choir called the Sixteen represents an ideal marriage of performers and musical material. Victoria's a cappella choral music, like that of Palestrina (from whom he likely learned a great deal), exemplifies the ideals of the Catholic Counter Reformation of the late sixteenth century; it is restrained, smoothed-down, not so much simple as perfectly proportioned. Victoria's individual contribution was a generally darker hue that is often called expressive but might better be described as reverential; he wrote no secular music at all. This set of "Lamentations of Jeremiah," intended for performance on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of Easter Week, has an especially hushed quality that is taken to a performance extreme by the Sixteen, a choir made up of singers who are all individual virtuosi. Each of the three sets of three Lamentation verses is rounded out by a hymn. Seldom has quiet choral singing been more perfectly blended than this, and seldom has it had a greater feeling of expressive tension, all applied to texts that lie close to the heart of the Christian belief system. For those who've encountered one or two of Victoria's motets in a glee club or community choir, this disc makes an ideal place to go next. Latin texts and English translations are provided, and the booklet notes are dry but informative, shedding light not only on the music but also on the institutions for which sacred music was written in late sixteenth century Rome.

Product Details

Release Date: 03/15/2005
Label: Coro
UPC: 0828021602122
catalogNumber: 16021
Rank: 116985


  1. Pange lingua "more hispano," hymn for 4 voices
  2. Vexilla regis "more hispano," hymn for 4 voices
  3. Lamentations, for chorus

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