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Published on Dec 1, 2011
Tomás Luis de Victoria (c. 1548 - 1611): O MAGNUM MYSTERIUM
I think that this is one of the most touching choral pieces which ever came out of the 16th century.
Tomás Luis de Victoria, sometimes Italianised da Vittoria, was a Spanish composer of the late Renaissance. "The Spanish Palestrina", as he is known, was the most famous composer of the 16th century in Spain, and one of the most important composers of the Counter-Reformation, along with Giovanni da Palestrina and Orlando di Lasso. Victoria was not only a composer, but also an accomplished organist and singer. However, he preferred the life of a composer rather than that of a performer.
Victoria has been praised for his melodic phrases and his joyful inventions. One can hear in his music a mystical intensity and direct emotional appeal. Stylistically his music avoids the elaborate counterpoint of many of his contemporaries, preferring simple line and homophonic textures, yet seeking rhythmic variety and sometimes including intense and surprising contrasts. His melodic writing and use of dissonance is more free than that of Palestrina; occasionally he uses intervals which are prohibited in the strict application of 16th century counterpoint. Victoria sometimes uses dramatic word-painting, of a kind usually found only in madrigals.
O magnum mysterium et admirabile sacramentum, ut animalia viderent Dominum natum jacentem in praesepio. O beata Virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt portare Dominum Jesum Christum. Alleluia!
O great mystery and wonderful sacrament, that the animals should see the new-born Lord lying in a manger. Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy to bear Christ the Lord. Alleluia!