Palestrina, Vol. 2 / The Sixteen

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PALESTRINA Missa Hodie Christus natus est. Hodie Christus natus est. Christe Redemptor omnium Ex Patre. Magnificat 5 toni. Tui sunt caeli. Reges Tharsis. O magnum...


PALESTRINA Missa Hodie Christus natus est. Hodie Christus natus est. Christe Redemptor omnium Ex Patre. Magnificat 5 toni. Tui sunt caeli. Reges Tharsis. O magnum mysterium. Song of Songs: Excerpts Harry Christophers, cond; The Sixteen CORO COR 16105 (67:34 Text and Translation)


This is the second issue in the recently announced series of Palestrina works ( Fanfare 35:2). In what is clearly a pattern, this disc also offers a Mass with its related motet, additional motets related to the theme of the Mass, and three more sections of the Song of Songs. Just as the first disc added Marian motets to the Mass for the feast of the Assumption, this Mass is filled out with Christmas motets. The hymn Christe Redemptor omnium is an alternatim setting, as is the Magnificat. The Mass is one of four double-choir Masses first published together in 1601, the only such settings among the composer’s 105 Masses. This is at least the seventh recording of the Mass but the first in almost two decades. The most recent were directed by Jeremy Summerly with a large choir (18:1) and by Paul McCreesh with a vocal ensemble (not reviewed in the States); earlier examples were mostly choral renditions. Christophers’s tempos fall midway between those two versions. The most notable difference among the three versions comes in the Agnus Dei, which I presume was set once by the composer; McCreesh surrounds the single invocation with chant from Mass XVII for the first and last invocations, Summerly renders the music twice, supplying the altered text for the final invocation, as I would expect a Renaissance-era choir to do, and Christophers simply provides the single invocation as printed.


The promise of the first disc is fulfilled here with an exquisite rendition of the Mass and a fine collection of related motets. While many will appreciate the warmth of Summerly’s larger choir, the broad tempos, and the attractive price of a disc that couples it with a much-duplicated Lassus Mass for double choir, there is much to be said for the new disc in addition to its intelligent programming. Christophers explains in the notes that hymns composed as alternatim settings can be difficult to sing because the chant found in modern editions does not correspond to the melody used in the polyphonic verses. But the chant of this Christe Redemptor omnium can be deduced from the polyphony and confirmed from Victoria’s setting, which was published with the same chant printed out completely. He also notes how singers may have added unwritten accidentals to the chant in the same way the accidentals were written in the polyphony. He cites the superb volume of 68 offertories for the liturgical year that Palestrina published at the end of his life (Lassus published a similar set), for two of them are included here for Christmas and Epiphany. These two sets were the first to offer something to replace the chants that had always been sung at this place in the Mass. Richard Marlow (31:1) gave us one of the most extensive collections of these pieces. I look forward to the continuation of this series, impatient with the prospect of one disc per year. How long will this go on?


FANFARE: J. F. Weber


Product Description:


  • Release Date: October 01, 2012


  • UPC: 828021610523


  • Catalog Number: COR16105


  • Label: CORO


  • Number of Discs: 1


  • Composer: Giovanni Palestrina


  • Conductor: Harry Christophers


  • Performer: V2: Palestrina