de Peñalosa: Lamentationes

Peñalosa Lamentations CD cover

New York Polyphony
56:41
BIS-2407 SACD

This exceptionally fine recording provides a convincing taster for the works of Francisco de Peñalosa, a leading Spanish composer of the early sixteenth century. The four male singers produce a beautifully blended and characterful sound, being particularly careful to unify vowel sounds and producing some really quiet singing in places. Their countertenor, Geoffrey Williams, blends well, his voice neither dominating nor inhabiting a different vocal world, as can sometimes happen. All four show exceptional control in long-breathed phrases while their singing brings the texts to life, with great clarity in enunciating the words; recording quality is also excellent. They sing two of Peñalosa’s three surviving lamentations and three movements from his Missa L’homme armé, as well as two short motets, one an attractive three-voice Song of Songs setting, Unica est columba mea. While it would have been good to have had the third lamentation and the other Mass movements, the group compensates by giving us a beautifully sombre Stabat mater by Juan Escobar (only the first two verses are set) and two pieces by Guerrero, his four-voice Quae est ista and the lively villancico Antes que coma’is a Dios. These show us how Peñalosa’s music links with that of his contemporary Escobar and the much later Guerrero, with all three echoing aspects of the style of Josquin des Prez. There are some excellent liner notes by Ivan Moody.  Highly recommended.

Noel O’Regan

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