Palestrina : Lamentations by Musica Contexta

Jerome Roche writing in Palestrina (Oxford Studies of Composers), claims that Palestrina wrote 41 complete sets of Lamentations for Tenebrae, although in his notes to their recording of Lamentations for Holy Thursday, Book III, Simon Ravens, director of Musica Contexta, says that only four sets survive. These Lamentations come from the Roman liturgy for Holy Week, which […]

Palestrina : Missa Ad coenam Agni

Stephen Rice’s Brabant Ensemble is a choir that closely resembles, at least in size, the kind of vocal group Palestrina would have been familiar with.  Generally utilizing three singers to a part Palestrina’s polyphony is put across clearly and strongly.   The documentary evidence indicates that this mass falls early in Palestrina’s career, but it is not a […]

Francisco de Peñalosa : Bruno Turner & Pro Cantione Antiqua

Under strong Flemish influence, Spanish composers of real quality and pronounced character emerged at the end of the fifteenth century, associated with the royal chapels of Ferdinand and Isabella and with the choirs of the great cathedrals, notably Toledo and Seville. Francisco de Peñalosa shares pre-eminence with some fine contemporaries such as the Basque Juan […]

Holy Week at the Chapel of the Dukes of Braganza : A Capella Portuguesa, Owen Rees

This recording is a celebration of the vast outpouring of masterpieces which survived the destruction by earthquake of the Lisbon libraries solely due to the dedication of the Vila Viçosa copyists. It is a collection of Renaissance polyphony celebrating Easter Week in Renaissance Portugal by some big names, Palestrina, Lobo, and Victoria but also includes […]

The Rise of Polyphony : Magister Leoninus and Magister Perotinus

I think we tend to take polyphony for granted. We inherited a form of music which has been with us for centuries and, in fact, we have even seen major-minor harmonic polyphony peak in the 18th century and then gradually give way and break down completely.  However, what we take for granted took centuries to […]