Penalosa Ensemble Celebrate the Spanish Renaissance

The Peñalosa Ensemble celebrates its 25th anniversary with an album of Spanish Renaissance composers. One happens to be the ensemble’s namesake, Francisco de Peñalosa. The other is Tomás Luis de Victoria. 

The Peñalosa Ensemble neatly divides the program into two halves. The first part presents the music of Peñalosa, the second Victoria’s. Peñalosa was active in the late 1490s. He was the first Spanish composer to adopt the Netherlandish style of Josquin de Prez. 

Peñalosa composed before the age of printing. Through handwritten copies, his music spread throughout Spain (though not far beyond). Peñalosa had an affinity for counterpoint and was one of its most advanced proponents. 

Many of his works play with the melodies. Motifs are presented backward, upside down, and even “remixed” with other melodies. This release includes a sterling example of this:  the Missa O Magnum Mysterium. 

Tomás Luis de Victoria came two generations after Peñalosa. He represents the twilight of Rennaisance polyphony. Victoria was a contemporary of Palestrina, and nearly as influential. Unlike Peñalosa, Victoria benefitted from music printing. Victoria was well-known across Western Europe.

Victoria was inspired by Peñalosa (as were most Spanish composers). But his works look ahead to the thinner textures of the Baroque Era. In this release, the differences between Peñalosa and Victoria show in stark contrast.

Marian Music of Spain
Francisco de Peñalosa; Tomás Luis de Victoria
Peñalosa Ensemble
CPO 555 398-2

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