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All but one of these recordings features a one-to-a-part vocal consort. Let’s begin with some Holy Week programmes: The four gentlemen of New York Polyphony include works by Guerrero and Escobar in Francisco de Peñalosa: Lamentationes an SACD recording which also includes some sections of that composer’s Missa ‘L’Homme armé’. They combine superbly emotional interpretations with spiritual depth, and their beautiful voices are wondrously balanced in ideal acoustics. One can only marvel at their graceful phrasing and total immersion in this undeservedly lesser-known material. For more male voice exploration of repertoire for the Triduum, look no further than Palestrina: Lamentations, a complete performance of Book 2 from Cinquecento, offering gloriously sustained lines. Voices of technical accomplishment and individual character combine to great effect with understanding and appreciation of the texts characterising their personal and personable singing. Palestrina’s works concerning the Last Supper, the Blessed Sacrament and the Crucifixion feature in Palestrina: Volume 8 from The Sixteen, the only choir in this selection. The grand, rarely heard, 8-voice Missa ‘Fratres ego enim accepi’ (for Corpus Christi or Holy Week) is welcome and impressive but three Song of Songs motets, albeit allegorical, make surprising (and inappropriate?) bedfellows. As for the performance, high standards are consistently maintained.

REBECCA TAVENER Read the full review on Agora Classica


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