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Harry Christophers and The Sixteen Release 5th Disc in Their Palestrina Series

Harry Christophers and The Sixteen Release 5th Disc in Their Palestrina Series

Harry Christophers and The Sixteen continue their exploration of Palestrina's great work with the fifth disc in their celebrated series. The new album features a selection of Palestrina's music for Pentecost including his Missa Iam Christus astra ascenderat. Palestrina, Volume 5 on The Sixteen's own CORO label is available this month from Allegro Classical.

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestina (1525-1594), known as "the prince and father of music," wrote over 100 masses and numerous motets, magnificats, hymns and other pieces for all the main feasts in the church year, as well as for general use. As Martyn Imrie writes in the liner notes, "Palestrina's music continues to exercise a power over us, an ability to move us, the essence of humanity in it reaching out to us, despite the archaic language and the long years that separate us from him."

The Feast of Pentecost, the fiftieth day after the resurrection, celebrates perhaps the most inspirational events during the birth of Christianity. The vividness of the images described in the Acts of the Apostles, the descent of the Holy Spirit and the speaking in many tongues has inspired much great music in the setting of the liturgical texts. Both Palestrina and Victoria composed stunning music on the text Dum complerentur dies and both reworked this music in superb large-scale masses. Palestrina went further with a second Pentecost mass, a masterly paraphrase on the tuneful hymn, Iam Christus astra ascenderat.

Additional works include the four-voiced Loquebantur variis linguis and the Magnificat quarti toni with its joyous text. The Sixteen also perform the Song of Songs 13-15, among Palestrina's most sublime and expressive works. Of the excerpts from the Song of Songs in a previous volume, International Record Review said: "we find The Sixteen and Christophers at their most subtly beguiling ... Palestrina's classical, understated word-painting brought out with a graceful, mellifluous sonority and supple phrasing."

The Sixteen's Palestrina series, conducted by founding music director Harry Christophers, has been universally acclaimed, with Volume 3 garnering a Grammy nomination for "Best Choral Performance" this year. Fanfare calls it "exquisite perfection," Early Music Review finds the sound "impeccably blended and almost too beautifull" while Gramophone declares it "a classic in the making."

Over one hundred recordings reflect The Sixteen's quality in a range of work spanning the music of 500 years. Their most recent release for their CORO label was The Blossoming Vine, the second volume in the new Polish series, featuring music by the Italian maestri of the Polish Royal Court of the 16th & 17th centuries.

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by Peter Danish