Flight of Angels: Music from the Golden Age in Spain

Dark green flowers

The Sixteen, Harry Christophers
Coro COR16128
Guerrero Agnus Dei I & II (Missa Congratulamini mihi),Credo (Missa de la batalla escoutez) Duo Seraphim, Gloria (Missa Surge propera), Laudate Dominum a8, Maria Magdalene, Vexilla Regis
Alonso Lobo Ave Maria a8, Ave Regina caelorum, Kyrie (Missa Maria Magdalene), Libera me, Versa est in luctum,

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his is a lovely disc. Guerrero and Lobo were associated with the great cathedral of Seville during its Golden Age in the late 16th and early 17th century, when it was the immensely wealthy mother church of Spain’s South American colonies. Harry Christophers has assembled a delectable feast of motets and mass movements; the disc opens with one of my personal favourites, the glorious Guerrero Duo Seraphim, dripping with Trinitarian symbolism – three choirs (12 voices!), three ‘full’ episodes, two voices for the Duo Seraphim, rising to three for the Tres Sunt and so on. The Sixteen capture Guerrero’s uniquely mellifluous vocal scoring to perfection. The same composer’s Maria Magdalene, describing the events around the Resurrection, is another show-stopping favourite – try the wonderful Secunda Pars and marvel! Guerrero’s pupil and eventual successor, Alonso Lobo, completes the disc; it is fascinating to compare his denser reworking of Maria Magdalene into a mass ordinary with the more limpid original. I particularly enjoyed the tremendous contrapuntal cleverness of his 8-voice Ave Maria, where the second choir’s music is derived canonically from that of the first. The Sixteen perform with their customary poise, precision and passion. The programme neatly reflects their 2015 Choral Pilgrimage concert series, hopefully coming to A Church Near You at some point in the next few months. Go forth, attend and acquire!

Alastair Harper

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