Roma Aeterna (PALESTRINA, VICTORIA & Others) – New York Polyphony – BIS

Roma Aeterna” [TrackList follows]- New York Polyphony – Works by PALESTRINA, DE VICTORIA AND GUERRERO; TIM KEELER; ANDREW FUCHS; JONATHAN WOODY – BIS multichannel SACD: BIS-2203 TT: 72:07 (6/3/16) [Distr. by Naxos] *****:

Lovely music and a fine recording make this a most listenable disc.

This is a lovely disc from BIS, featuring two masses that are stunningly recorded and performed. Previous discs by the New York Polyphony have explored music from the renaissance and contemporary works, but this disc is anchored generally in the 16th century, with a program centered on two of the greatest composers of the era – Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and Tomás Luis de Victoria. Palestrina’s polyphonic art has influenced composers throughout the ages, and his Missa Papae Marcelli is often regarded as the crowning glory of vocal music from the era. His slightly younger colleague Tomás Luis de Victoria was born in Spain, but went to Rome to study and remained there for two decades. During that time he published a number of works, including Missa O quam gloriosum and the motet Gaudent in coelis. The disc also offers a short work by Francisco Guerrero. The program includes works scored for four as well as for six voices, in which the four members of New York Polyphony are variously joined by Tim Keeler (countertenor), Andrew Fuchs (tenor) and Jonathan Woody (bass-baritone).

Audio-wise, the disc offers stereo and typical five-channel surround. The surrounds are designed to provide a realistic representation of the recording venue, in this case St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha. You won’t hear discreet voices from the rear, but no matter. The recording offers a lovely sound, with good front channel separation and a reverberant field that makes your room come alive. BIS often does not provide a .1 subwoofer channel, feeling that such a configuration is more suited to home theater. Again, the sound is quite good. I cranked up the volume on my audio system to get ‘live’ levels, and was pleased with the production decisions BIS made for the disc.

I’ve heard the New York Polyphony in one of their previous discs, Sing thee Nowell, a very agreeable collection of Christmas music. The group is superb again in this performance, and I can highly recommend this disc both for the performance and the recording!

TrackList:

1. Regina caeli by Francisco Guerrero
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Written: pub 1584

2. Missa “Papae Marcelli” by Giovanni Palestrina
Performer:  Jonathan Woody (Bass Baritone), Andrew Fuchs (Tenor), Tim Keeler (Countertenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Renaissance
Written: by 1567; Italy

3. Tu es Petrus by Giovanni Palestrina
Performer:  Tim Keeler (Countertenor), Andrew Fuchs (Tenor), Jonathan Woody (Bass Baritone)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Renaissance
Written: 16th Century; Italy

4. Missa “O quam gloriosum” by Tomás Luis de Victoria
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Renaissance
Written: by 1583; Spain

5. Gaudent in coelis by Tomás Luis de Victoria
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Renaissance
Written: by 1585; Spain

6. Gaudent in coelis by Giovanni Palestrina
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony

7. Sicut cervus by Giovanni Palestrina
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Renaissance
Written: by 1581; Italy

8. Sitivit anima mea by Giovanni Palestrina
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Polyphony
Period: Renaissance
Written: 16th Century; Italy

—Mel Martin

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