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David Denton
David's Review Corner, December 2015

Covering one hundred and fifty years of vocal music in Portugal, a period when the country was already enjoying an unprecedented golden era in its financial fortunes. That had come about by its renowned explorers discovering far away places that could enrich the country, and was to create the fertile atmosphere in which the country would play as emerging role in European music. We here explore that role in its religious context, and through shrouded in uncertainty as to its origins, we do have the music of several known composers, including Fernão Gomes Correia and Damiao de Gois, who were active in the first quarter of the 16th century. Correia’s Mass, ‘Orbis Factor’, in its four brief sections being a small and precious jewel of its time. Move forward to the later part of the century, and we find four motets of far greater length from Pedro de Cristo, an Augustian monk who left substantial works of artistic value, Virgo prudentissima being particularly attractive. In the first half of the 17th century we leave the confines of the church to encompass music composed for the Royal family, such being the good fortune of Jose Lourenço Rebelo who was born in 1610. Though his education is unknown, he could compose in a complex style, the extended Lamentations for two choirs of four voices and organ accompaniment being outstanding. From much the same time, but from an anonymous hand, we have music associated with Christmas from the Monastery of Santa Cruz in Coimbra, where they obviously had an instrumental continuo, the music possessing a rhythmic vibrancy that is folk orientated. The British conductor, Jonathan Ayerst, makes no claim for period authenticity, the young Portuguese vocal ensemble, Capella Duriensis, compromised by containing female voices in place of boys. They make a nice and well balanced sound, this being the first of three volumes being recording for Naxos on this theme. Available only as a direct download. © 2015 David’s Review Corner

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