Westminster Cathedral Choir, James O'Donnell (conductor)
After successes with recordings of music by Frank Martin, Ildebrando Pizzetti and Francisco Guerrero, The Choir of Westminster Cathedral now turns to music associated with Philip II of Spain, the fourth centenary of whose death falls this year. Philip was regarded as something of a patron of the arts, and each of the works recorded here was either dedicated to him or composed to honour an event during his reign.
The centrepiece of the recording is Escobedo's mighty Missa Philippus Rex Hispaniae. It is written for six voices in a strong contrapuntal style rooted in the Franco-Flemish traditions of the contemporary Papal chapel, owing much to the generation of Josquin des Prez and successors like Morales, a senior colleague of Escobedo in the choir of the Sistine Chapel (where records show that Escobedo was frequently 'booked' for bad behaviour!). This is the first recording of Anthony Fiumara's pioneering transcription of the Mass—it survives in just one manuscript which is in such bad condition (largely due to ink corrosion) that several of the pages are virtually black.