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The Observer on Tenebrae

18 April, 2018

Also from Harmonia Mundi this month is a new recording of a much more familiar set of Tenebrae Responsories, by Tomás Luis de Victoria, composed in Rome more than 70 years before Lambert’s collection. These are transcendently beautiful choral settings, a sequence of 18 unaccompanied, four-part motets that are both profoundly restrained and dramatically compelling at the same time; they seem to belong in a totally different expressive space from Lambert’s solo version. Using 14 singers, Stile Antico’s performance – the settings for each day separated by plainsong – seems to capture that mix of austerity and contained intensity perfectly.