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Deutsche Grammophon Releases a 10-CD Box Set of Tomás Luis de Victoria

Ensemble Plus Ultra and Director Michael Noone celebrate the more than 90 Works they have recorded with concerts in Boston and New York in October

While Tomás Luis de Victoria ranks as one of the greatest Spanish composers of all time, his renown in recent decades has often been eclipsed by his Renaissance contemporaries Palestrina and Lassus. Seizing the opportunity of this year's Victoria centenary, Michael Noone and his Ensemble Plus Ultra shine the spotlight on this unique Spanish genius revealing him as the equal of any composer of the High Renaissance-a towering composer whose works glow with the passion and vibrant tonal palette of El Greco.

Ensemble Plus Ultra has newly recorded 93 works by Victoria to commemorate this anniversary, and Deutsche Grammophon & Archiv Produktion are proud to release this monumental 10-CD box set on September 27, 2011. Ensemble Plus Ultra's thorough reassessment of these works confirms in sound what James Michener so perspicaciously observed in his classic travelogue Iberia:

"He [Victoria] was the equal of Palestrina...the richness of his construction and the dramatic manner in which he interweaves as many as six threads of sound, uniting them occasionally in majestic chords, form one of the joys of sixteenth-century music and I would suppose that for many who know music generally, the discovery of Victoria will be one of the few remaining delights ... Victoria died in 1611, on August 27, a day held in reverence by mystics throughout the world as the anniversary of Santa Teresa's vision of being struck in the heart by a lance of fire held by an angel. He left Spanish music the equal of any being composed in Europe."

The London-based Ensemble Plus Ultra was born to explore the treasures of Spain's musical heritage, led by Michael Noone's untiring research in the archives of Spain's cathedrals, monasteries and palaces. The decade-long preparation for this set of CDs took them on a vast pilgrimage through Spain's most important musical festivals and its most remote archives, collecting sounds, instruments, manuscripts and inspiration along the way. This culminating set of 10 CDs, packaged in a commemorative box, brought together over 40 musicians from more than five countries to record 93 works by Victoria. The entire venture took more than 70 days of rehearsals and recording and resulted in a dozen hours of newly recorded Masses, Lamentations, Motets, Magnificats and more.

One of the many connecting themes of the project is the period of more than 25 years that Victoria spent in Madrid and during which time he published more than half of his compositional output. All of the works in his landmark publication of 1600, the Missae, Magnificat, motecta, psalmi et alia quam plurima published by the royal printer, Juan de Flandes, have been included in this set. In addition, there are recordings of many works by Victoria that are found only in manuscripts and have been specially edited for this project and have never before been recorded. Highlights in this category include the nine lamentations that are preserved in a Sistine Chapel manuscript and the 12 works (including three masses and six magnificats) from a manuscript choirbook at Toledo cathedral. Other previously unrecorded masterworks include Bovicelli's extraordinary virtuosic arrangement of Victoria's Vadam et circuibo and a large number of ‘alternatim' works featuring verses for organ, plainsong and wind instruments.

In this exciting venture, Ensemble Plus Ultra was joined by the specialist instrumentalists of His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts (dir. Jeremy West), Spanish plainsong specialists Schola Antiqua (dir. Juan Carlos Asensio) and renowned organists Andrés Cea Galan and Mahan Esfahani. The recordings feature the historic organs of San Pedro in Tordesillas and the collegiate church of San Pedro in Lerma. The entire project was directed by Michael Noone.

In honor of Victoria's death and to celebrate the release of these recordings, Ensemble Plus Ultra and director Michael Noone make their US debut with concerts in Boston and New York.

Performance Dates

October 12 & 13
St. Mary's Chapel, Boston College

October 15
First Church, Cambridge, MA
Presented with Blue Heron

October 16
St Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church, New York, NY

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