Westminster Cathedral Choir, David Hill (conductor)
The Liturgy of Holy Week in the Roman Rite was called Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae and this was the title that Victoria used for his collection published in Rome in 1585 shortly before he returned to Spain. In it he presented polyphonic music to adorn some of the most important services from Palm Sunday to Holy Saturday. It is one of the most complete cycles of music for Holy Week by a single composer, exceeded only by that of the little-known Paulus Ferrariens (1565). Of Victoria’s peers, Lassus and Palestrina, we have Lamentations and Responsories by the former and five sets of Lamentations (of which only the simplest was printed) by the latter. Victoria’s Officium for Holy Week and his great Office of the Dead have stood the test of time and are recognized as supreme works of the last phase of what we call Renaissance polyphony. Their intensity of expression and concentrated anguish have also influenced, somewhat unduly, our view of the composer, overshadowing his serene and joyous music for the countless happy festivals of the Church.