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Victoria: Masses, Salve Regina / Baker, Westminster Cathedral Choir

Victoria / Choir Of Westminster Cathedral / Baker
Release Date: 11/08/2011 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67891   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Tomás Luis de Victoria
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

VICTORIA Missa de Beata Maria Virgine. Missa Surge propera. Salve regina. PALESTRINA Surge propera Martin Baker, cond; Westminster Cathedral Ch HYPERION CDA 67891 (67:58 Text and Translation)

The quatercentenary of Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548–1611) has brought us a number of new recordings, most notably in the missing Masses. As recently as 20 years ago we had heard only 13 of the total of 20 Masses on Read more records (plus one dubious title, Missa Dominicalis , recorded on an Educo LP), not all of them on CD. Now we have 17 Masses on commercial CDs and await only the Missa Quam pulchri sunt , only available on an archival CD, a live recording of a Mass in New Haven, Conn.; the Missa quarti toni (once an Erato/MHS LP); and the Requiem for four voices (once an RCA Victor LP). These 17 Masses are now available in superb performances from just three groups: the Westminster Cathedral choir, the Cardinall’s Musick, and The Sixteen. This new disc is a major addition to the list, for the Missa de Beata Maria Virgine has been recorded only by a Spanish group on a CD not widely distributed. The other Mass has been recorded by Piers Schmidt and Gerd Guglhör, but the new version easily eclipses them. Martin Baker has already given us a Victoria Mass ( Fanfare 28:4), following many Masses under his predecessors David Hill and James O’Donnell, not to mention the renowned Argo LP of Tenebrae under George Malcolm in 1959, a motet under Stephen Cleobury, and the recent debut of the lay clerks (without the boys) under his assistant, Matthew Martin (33:2). Baker has dispensed with the organ accompaniment that he added to his first Victoria Mass.

The notes suggest a reason the Lady Mass, first published in 1576, has hardly been recorded. Since the movements of the Mass take their cantus firmi from the Gregorian Mass IX and Credo I, which are written in various modes (1, 7, 4, and 5), some of which are transposed in Victoria’s cantus firmi, the conductor must be willing to transpose further unless he is willing to assign the parts to varying voice ranges. This edition transposes the Kyrie and Gloria down a tone and the Credo up a minor third. The other Mass, published in 1584, is a parody Mass on Palestrina’s motet, published in 1583, on a text from the Song of Songs. The notes indicate that this Old Testament book was “controversial (at least in the 16th century),” but as far as I know the longstanding allegorical interpretation of the book (applied by Jewish interpreters to God’s love for his people Israel and by Christians to Christ’s love for the Church) still endured at that time. (Bruno Turner made the case brilliantly in the notes to his recording of Palestrina’s Canticum Canticorum .) Victoria’s Salve Regina for five voices is not the setting recently recorded by Harry Christophers (34:6), and I can’t find another version of this one.

The choir, arguably the finest cathedral choir in the world, had an auspicious beginning under Sir Richard Terry in 1901, and if it had its ups and downs after he resigned in 1924, its current excellence has endured since 1982 under the last three directors, Hill, O’Donnell, and Baker. This disc displays the lovely tonal quality of all sections, the marvelous blend, and the flexibility that is possible with a choir that is not very large. Don’t miss this addition to your Victoria collection, and pray for the last remaining Masses.

FANFARE: J. F. Weber
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Works on This Recording

Missa de beata Maria virgine by Tomás Luis de Victoria
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
Period: Renaissance  
Written: Spain 
Salve regina by Tomás Luis de Victoria
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Spain 
Missa "Surge propera" by Tomás Luis de Victoria
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1583; Spain 

Featured Sound Samples

Missa de Beata Maria Virgine: Kyrie
Missa Surge propera: Sanctus

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