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Putting a brilliant new spin on Victoria’s most celebrated work, Officium Defunctorum is a wonderfully spacious complete reconstruction across two discs from La Grande Chapelle and Schola Antiqua. The two-day Office, from the Matins and Lauds of the vigil (a world premiere recording) to the actual Missa Defunctorum, for the obsequies of Philip II of Spain’s sister, Empress Maria of Austria, in 1603 proceeds with intense devotional dignity. A bajon (dulcian or curtal – precursor of the bassoon) offers bass support, sepulchral colour and note-giving. Exemplary, detailed scholarship backs up a wholly convincing interpretation of both Victoria’s highly personal, rhetorical polyphony and plainchant from sources of the period, captured as gloriously immediate sound in glowing acoustics. Immersion in this outstanding recording offers exceptional musical time-travel.

REBECCA TAVENER Read the full review on Agora Classica

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