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American Record Guide: (09-10/2020) 
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Academy of Ancient Music

Code-barres / Barcode : 5060340150105


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Reviewer: Charles Brewer

While there are at least four recordings of Francisco Valls's most famous work, his Scala Aretina Mass from 1704 (Nov/Dec 1993, Sept/ Oct 1995, May/June 2015, May/June 2018) for three choirs of vocalists and a fourth "choir" of instrumentalists, his smaller-scale Masses have not been as often recorded (in contrast to his other liturgical music, Jan/Feb 2012 & May/June 2016). A recording of two more modest Masses (in the First and Fourth Tone) was given a tepid review from Mr Gatens (July/Aug 2007). Fortunately, that is not the case for this first recording of one of Valls's last compositions, composed in 1740 for King Joao V of Portugal. The title page dedication of the manuscript for the Royal Mass included Valls's comment: "Sic cecinit prope Septuagenarius Cygnus" (Thus has sounded the almost 70 year old swan). Like the earlier Scala Aretina Mass and the Ut Quant Laxis Mass, the Royal Mass is based on the Guidonian hexachord, but rather then just the rising and falling pattern of ut re mi fa sol la, Valls devised three musical motives from the six pitches that he noted on the title page, which he integrated into the polyphonic fabric created by the five voices (plus continuo). While the Masses included on the 2007 recording are much more reserved in style, the polyphony in the Royal Mass requires a virtuosity and dexterity from all the voice parts and the 22 singers and the continuo section (bass violin, ducian, and organ) are ably guided by Matthew Martin. While it would have been appropriate to add some of Valls's other liturgical music to this rather short recording, Martin adds three organ tientos, two by Francisco Corea de Arouxo and one by Juan Bautista José Cabinilles, as musical interludes. The booklet essay is very informative both about the Mass and the organ works, and does include the text and translation for the Mass (though it seems to be a local musical practice not to include a 'Benedictus' in the 'Sanctus' movement).


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