Arte Minima Present Renaissance Classic from Portugal

The ensemble Arte Minima specializes in Renaissance music from Portugal. This album presents the Missa “O beata Maria” by Francisco de Santa Maria. Santa Maria (1532/38-1597) was chapel master of the Monastery of Santa Cruz de Coimbra. And he was a favorite of King Philip I of Portugal.

The ensemble doesn’t just present the mass. It begins with the Pedro Guerrero motet Santa Maria based the work on. It also includes three instrumental interludes, inserted into the mass. These contrast the choral music and make for a more engaging program.

Santa Maria was a master of counterpoint. His melodic lines are always clear. The counterpoint supports and enhances the melodies without obscuring them. Santa Maria had a unique compositional voice. I’ve not heard 16th-century choral music quite like this. It’s a welcome addition to the recorded repertoire.

The Alte Minima is an unusual ensemble. It has four vocalists and five instrumentalists. The instrumentalists play a variety of alto, tenor, and bass recorders. It’s a warm, soft sound with a wonderful blend of the voices.

It’s a sound I’ve not heard before. And it’s music I’ve not heard before. So, win-win for me. And perhaps for you, too. If you’re interested in Renaissance choral music, give this album a listen.

Francisco de Santa Maria: Missa “O beata Maria”
Arte Minima; Pedro Sousa Silva
Pan Clasics PC 10452

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