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Customer Review

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Why?, 31 July 2012
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This review is from: Victoria: Requiem (Officium Defunctorum, 1605) (Audio CD)
This recording is a frustrating mixture of the very good and the very mediocre.
If you are looking for a "return-to-the-glorious-religious-past" experience then I suppose that it may partially succeed by taking you through a lot of insensitively sung plainsong of very questionable scholarship in the parts of the Mass that Victoria did not write.
I am tired of buying CDs in which I have to wade across acres of indifferently sung plainsong to get to the bits of polyphony that I bought the CD for.
In my younger days I very often sang the plainsong requiem Mass at Catholic funerals, and I can honestly say that the singing of it on this CD is not very good, and the distillation of it's music text seems to have been arrived at by passing through a very coarse Protestant filter!
The singing of the choir is, for the most part, fairly good, although there is a voice in the alto part that, at times, has too much of an edge on it to blend in.

The interpretation is very mixed, ie...
The Lectio 2 is too fast and 'couldn't care less'.The magical modulatory cadencein therein doesn't seem to have any magic.
Victoria's approach to death as a voyage of marvellous discovery, portrayed in the Introitus by the modulations at the outset, seems to have been overlooked, as does, simultaneously, the glorious architecture of the Cantus Firmus in the second voice down.
The urgent,almost panic stricken reminder to God of His promise of eternal life through Abraham, doesn't seem to have a lot of urgency in it on this CD, and the same could almost be said of the pleading chain of suspensions in the 'Kyrie'.
The technical quality of the recording is as one would expect, but not entirely to my taste, as it seems often rather distant and gives a 'Big Choir' effect giving the splendour but not the intimacy that the original performance had with it's very small choir.

I am glad that I bought this recording, for the sake of comparison and reference but I suspect that I wont play it very often.

This work has been described as the " Glorious sunset" of the polyphonic period, and I think that the benchmark recording of it must remain the 1958 performance sung by the Netherlands Chamber Choir, conducted by Felix de Nobel, issued on Columbia.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 31 Oct 2015 03:08:51 GMT
I didn't realise the Felix de Nobel performance was this old. I would have bought mine some time in the sixties, I suppose (on LP of course). Strangely, it's for the motets O Magnum Mysterium and Pastores Loquebantur , that I remember it most. It makes you realise how poor the stuff you hear on the radio, TV, etc, at Christmas is.
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