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O Magnum Mysterium - Sacred Music Of Palestrina / Upadhyaya


Release Date: 05/13/2003 
Label:  Sono Luminus   Catalog #: 93255   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Giovanni Palestrina
Conductor:  Vijay Upadhyaya
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Vocal Consort
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 0 Mins. 

CD not available: This title is currently only available as an MP3 download.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

The CD catalog is loaded with recordings of Palestrina's masses and motets, but considering his relatively large, consistently high-quality output, it's amazing that a handful of works gets most of the attention, most notably the Pope Marcellus mass, which appears on no less than 17 currently-available recordings. Presumably this popularity owes to the work's long-assumed but now disproved role in "rescuing" polyphonic style from an impending ban by the Roman church, and not because it is musically superior to Palestrina's other 100-plus masses. Of course, the Missa Papae Marcellae is a masterpiece, but the mass featured on this program is well worth the serious attention it gets here from this excellent choir, and deserves yours Read more as well. (One other recording of it is available, on a 1996 Centaur CD by Chicago A Cappella, which I have not heard.)


From the opening of the Kyrie, we recall the brilliant sonorities and flowing lines of the motet on which Palestrina based the mass--the motet that opens the program--and throughout we hear the familiar mix of chordal/homophonic writing and perfectly integrated polyphonic passages. At 32 minutes, it's among Palestrina's more substantial masses (although somewhat shorter than the Pope Marcellus). However, it's the motets that provide the disc's most immediately appealing--and best-sung--music. If the singing in the mass shows just a smidgen of intonational wear around the edges (during the Gloria and Credo especially) and some flagging of energy in the longest movements, the motets are near-perfect--crisply and cleanly articulated, confidently phrased, and pleasingly resonant, with excellent pacing that creates a natural, unforced momentum.


Palestrina was a master of text-setting, and if you find the "right" tempo, the language and music flow easily together, as they do in these performances. Just listen to the motet Tu es Petrus (another of this composer's more popularly recorded works) and you'll appreciate both these and other characteristics of Palestrina's masterpieces, including the soaring soprano, artfully woven interior parts, and harmonic progressions that give sustenance to long, powerfully dramatic stretches between cadences. With their vibrant, well-balanced sound and intelligent interpretations that effectively preserve the meaning of the texts as well as the clarity of all the components of each work, Vijay Upadhyaya and his Vienna Vocal Consort (a group made up of "professional singers from all over Europe") make a strong and welcome entry to the discography of under-recorded Palestrina. And the sound, from Kollegiatstift Eisgarn, Austria, has just the right brightness and resonance to perfectly complement this music. For more recently released and similarly fine Palestrina recordings, check out Ensemble Officium (type Q3889 in Search Reviews), Westminster Cathedral Choir (Q277), and the Hilliard Ensemble (Q1405).
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Missa "O magnum mysterium" by Giovanni Palestrina
Conductor:  Vijay Upadhyaya
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Vocal Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1582; Italy 
Language: Latin 
2. O magnum mysterium by Giovanni Palestrina
Conductor:  Vijay Upadhyaya
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Vocal Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1569; Italy 
Language: Latin 
3. Quem vidistis, pastores by Giovanni Palestrina
Conductor:  Vijay Upadhyaya
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Vocal Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; Italy 
Language: Latin 
4. Ave Maria by Giovanni Palestrina
Conductor:  Vijay Upadhyaya
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Vocal Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; Italy 
Language: Latin 
5. Vidi turbam magnam by Giovanni Palestrina
Conductor:  Vijay Upadhyaya
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Vocal Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1569; Italy 
Language: Latin 
6. Tu es Petrus by Giovanni Palestrina
Conductor:  Vijay Upadhyaya
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Vocal Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; Italy 
Language: Latin 
7. Loquebantur variis linguis by Giovanni Palestrina
Conductor:  Vijay Upadhyaya
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Vocal Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1563; Italy 
Language: Latin 
8. Et omnes Angeli by Giovanni Palestrina
Conductor:  Vijay Upadhyaya
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Vocal Consort
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; Italy 
Language: Latin 

Sound Samples

Motets for 5-8 Voices: Book 1 for 5-7 Voices: O magnum mysterium (prima pars)
Motets for 5-8 Voices: Book 1 for 5-7 Voices: Quem vidistis pastores (secunda pars)
Offertoria totius anni: Ave Maria a 5
Motets for 5-8 Voices: Book 1 for 5-7 Voices: Vidi turbam magnam (prima pars)
Motets for 5-8 Voices: Book 1 for 5-7 Voices: Et omnes Angeli (secunda pars)
Motets for 4 Voices, Book 1, "Motecta festorum totius anni": Loquebantur variis linguis
Motets for 5-8 Voices: Book 2 for 5, 6 and 8 Voices: Tu es Petrus a 6
Masses, Book 4: Missa O Magnum Mysterium: Kyrie
Masses, Book 4: Missa O Magnum Mysterium: Gloria
Masses, Book 4: Missa O Magnum Mysterium: Credo
Masses, Book 4: Missa O Magnum Mysterium: Sanctus - Benedictus
Masses, Book 4: Missa O Magnum Mysterium: Agnus Dei

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