Texte paru dans: / Appeared in:


Pour s'abonner / Subscription information


Code barres / Barcode : 691062069427


Outil de traduction
Translator tool

Reviewer :
Fabrice Fitch


This will be a revelation to many. Vicente Lusitano’s name is familiar to specialists of the Renaissance as a key witness to the practice of improvised counterpoint; it is the growing familiarity of these practices with modern-day ensembles that has led gradually to his greater recognition in the last 10 years. But there is more. When Robert Stevenson argued for the rescue of Lusitano’s composed music from neglect in his landmark study of Iberian Renaissance music 40 years ago (independently of his treatises on improvisation), he cited the need to acknowledge the presence of black musicians in early modern Europe; for Lusitano is thought to have been the first recorded black composer (or mixed race, to be more precise) in Western music, and on the basis of this recording, one really ought to say ‘pre-eminence’.


This selection of motets impresses by its variety of scorings and moods, ranging from the relatively transparent (Emendemus in melius, where I detect echoes of Morales’s setting) to the thickets of his Salve regina, which bristles like a porcupine from the density of references to the chant. Or try Ave spes nostra for lower voices, reminiscent of Willaert in its concentration; or Lusitano’s chromatic showboat Heu mihi, Domine, nearer I think to Rore or to Gesualdo’s Neapolitan predecessors than to the Prince of Venosa himself; or, finally, the two splendidly elaborate pieces that reference Josquin, but through an aesthetic that he may scarcely have recognised. My reference to Willaert is not out of the blue, for Lusitano’s style seems to me best understood in terms of the even more famous (and presumably older) master: until very recently Willaert himself was regarded as an intractable figure, his contemporary renown hard to grasp, until a spate of magnificent recordings (from Singer Pur and Cinquecento) began to make sense of it. Lusitano is perhaps an indirect beneficiary of the new understanding of Willaert. But that’s not to say that his voice is not his own: the transition to the final Amen in Praeter rerum has something magical about it.


That such moments (there are others) carry such conviction is due to The Marian Consort’s superb performances, which feel as though they have been grown into and lived in. From the opening bars of Praeter rerum, heard in the shadow of Josquin but soon claiming an identity of its own, one senses a clarity of purpose that goes beyond sonic beauty, though that also is there in spades: the female singers and Rory McCleery’s alto shape their lines beatifully, as do the lower voices on their own in Ave spes nostra. The tentativeness I sensed in some previous offerings for Delphian, both in direction and execution, has gone entirely. More than one voice on all parts are used to negotiate Heu mihi, which is understandable due to the fierce problems of tuning it poses, though it might have been even better to hear a couple of takes so as to demonstrate the possible inflections. The concluding Inviolata might also have been taken a touch faster; but overall it is hard to overstate how far The Marian Consort have come since I last reviewed them. They seem to have reached a new level, and the outstanding quality of their sound is matched by the recording. That they do this in the service of a relatively unheralded but richly deserving music is sure to win both them and Lusitano new friends.



Sélectionnez votre pays et votre devise en accédant au site de
Presto Classical
(Bouton en haut à gauche)
Livraison mondiale

Pour acheter l'album
ou le télécharger

To purchase the CD
or to download it

Choose your country and currency
when reaching
Presto Classical
(Upper left corner of the page)
Worldwide delivery


Cliquez l'un ou l'autre bouton pour découvrir bien d'autres critiques de CD
 Click either button for many other reviews