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July 18, 2007

Sound of an era long gone

Daily Telegraph (UK):

With its setting for up to 60 voice-parts, Alessandro Striggio’s Missa “Ecco sì beato giorno” warrants a sizeable crowd to listen to it, and, perhaps thanks to widespread advance publicity, that is certainly what it got at Tuesday’s late night Prom.

This was a major achievement for Davitt Moroney, the scholar who discovered the manuscript, after a quarter of a century looking for it, in Paris’s Bibliothèque Nationale, and who conducted this first performance after a passage of perhaps more than four centuries.

The full forces of the BBC Singers, the Tallis Scholars and His Majesty’s Sagbutts and Cornetts were deployed in an experience of enveloping Renaissance richness.

With Thomas Tallis’s famous 40-part motet “Spem in alium” (conducted by Peter Phillips) in the same programme, similarities were apparent in the sheer opulence of sonority, though there were also differences in Striggio’s comparatively unadventurous harmonic palette and in the way that Tallis seems to exploit much more pointedly the soloistic potential of the individual vocal lines, together with their aptitude for creating those pungent note-clashes, or “false relations”.

But the impact of both pieces, as well as a motet by Striggio and a motet and Magnificat by Tallis, was immense, and the pitting of choral groups one against the other a thing of visceral excitement.

Posted by acapnews at July 18, 2007 12:02 AM

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