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Fanfare Magazine: 39:2 (11-12/2015) 
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Reviewer: J. F. Weber

The sixth issue in this group’s series of Palestrina recordings features one of the two Masses that Palestrina based on the familiar tune used by so many composers over a span of two centuries. Older recordings under Mark Brown (Fanfare 33:5) and Sergio Vartolo were adequate, but it is good to have such a superb version, typical of this series. (Brown in his new career is the producer of this recording.) The three offertories from one of the composer’s last publications are all from the neglected second book (the first book was well represented by Richard Marlow, 31:1), and only Super flumina Babylonis has been recorded before in a somewhat less mellifluous version by Schola Hungarica (29:1). Three motets from the Canticum Canticorum, often recorded as a complete set of 29, continue what has now reached 18 motets in this series. The rest of the program consists of four motets. The longest is Tribularer, a setting in two parts (as appropriate for respond and verse) of a responsory that belongs to the first week in Lent. The text is typical of the early days of Lent, calling for repentance for sin with the assurance of God’s mercy. Two of the motets, Peccantem me quotidie and Tribulationes civitatum, have been recorded by James O’Donnell with the Westminster Cathedral Choir.

As this series progresses, it becomes more valuable for building up a collection of Masses, offertories, motets, and the Canticum Canticorum such as any single disc in the series cannot claim. Each disc offers a varied program, while the collection as a whole is comprehensive. The Sixteen is an adult mixed vocal ensemble that possesses the warmth of a small choir while retaining the flexibility that smaller ensembles have. Christophers has an appreciation for Palestrina that rivals the work of James O’Donnell with the Westminster Cathedral Choir, which produces an alternative sound that makes a valuable counterpoint to Christophers’s interpretations. As this series progresses, I can only ask for Masses that have been neglected on records, for they are numerous, and offertories from the second book, equally neglected. The series, six discs so far, is highly recommended, singly and as a whole.


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