Westminster Cathedral Choir, David Hill (conductor)
Victoria was the greatest Spanish composer of the late Renaissance. Compared with the prolific Palestrina the number of his works is not great; compared with Byrd, Victoria’s music is not so varied or wide ranging. Indeed, placed beside the enormous output of Lassus, Victoria’s achievement seems to be very restricted; there is none of the dazzling virtuosity and broad culture, none of the extraordinary diversity. Yet, in its narrow specialization in strictly liturgical or devotional function, Victoria’s music is not only the most perfectly suited to its purpose, but the most perfectly styled and fashioned of its kind, its emotional heart perfectly in accord with Roman Catholic liturgical ceremony in the Tridentine Rite. Even more than Palestrina’s, Victoria’s art is an expression of Catholicism as defined by the Council of Trent.