Palestrina: Missa Assumpta est Maria (Kyrie)
Morales: Regina caeli
Palestrina: Missa Ecce ego Johannes (Gloria)
Festa: Quam pulchra es
Palestrina: Missa Papae Marcelli (Credo)
Palestrina: Missa Confitebor tibi domine (Sanctus & Benedictus)
Campkin: Miserere Mei
Josquin: Inter natos mulierum
Palestrina: Missa Brevis (Agnus)
The Sistine Chapel, the heart of the Vatican in Rome, is well-known for having bequeathed a treasure-trove of visual art to posterity. With one notable exception, it is rather less known for the musical treasures which it has nurtured for many centuries. In many cases this is due to the jealous guarding of the music by a series of Popes, who would not allow certain pieces to pass beyond the walls of the chapel. Such is the case, famously, of Gregorio Allegri’s Miserere, which acquired such a mystique through the Sistine Chapel’s monopoly that tracing its journey has become one of the most intriguing musical problems of our time.
This program allows us a privileged glimpse into the heyday of the Vatican of the high Renaissance. The power and prestige of the Papacy was at its apex, and before long the Council of Trent would spur liturgists and artists to the heights of the Counter-Reformation. In this spirit, the continuity in this program is provided by that most prolific of polyphonists, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Rather than choose just one setting of the Ordinary of the Mass, Peter Phillips has chosen individual movements from five different masses, forming a composite which shows the remarkable breadth and consistency of Palestrina’s style.