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GRAMOPHONE (04/2024)
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Reviewer :
David Fallows


Robert Hollingworth’s motto for this disc is the question he poses in his introduction:


‘How can so little mean so much?’ Victoria’s Tenebrae Responsories are among the starkest music ever penned, with the four voices just declaiming some of the starkest words in the Christian liturgy; but the impact here is just overwhelming. The solo singers almost never raise their voices and absolutely never put the stress on any particular word or phrase, whereas most other recordings put their emphasis on the


Spanish passion hidden in his apparently simple phrases; the very restraint of I Fagiolini does the trick here.


Between each set of three motets (though only on the physical CD) Hollingworth himself reads poems by Christopher Reid, poems that mourn the death of his wife. By reading these very simple poems in such a marvellously undramatic way he contributes magically to the atmosphere. Again, the very restraint of the poems contrasts with the anguish of the Latin poetry but beautifully complements the gentle clarity of the singing.


One could add that the CD comes with an admirably informative note by Hugh Keyte and a very clear introduction to how the music works by Hollingworth himself. There are plenty more versions of the music out there but this one creates a very special colour and atmosphere. Nobody is likely to regret obtaining a copy, however many other recordings they have of the same music.

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