Victoria: Second Vespers of the Feast of the Annunciation

The Spanish master of the golden age of polyphony, Tomás Luis de Victoria left an astonishingly beautiful legacy of antiphonal sacred music devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Realised for the very first time here by The Exon Singers is a Vespers for the Annunciation, bringing together these works of Marian devotion in a glorious and revelatory celebration.

"There is an air of perfection about the singing, but the total blend is exquisite without being sterile."

"This is one of those rare liturgical reconstructions that create the illusion that the listener is actually in the congregation. The tenors and basses project the considerable amount of plainsong with confidence and an air of utter familiarity, as if they do this sort of thing every day.The same confidence, enhanced by a brilliant soprano sound, is magnificently displayed in the mainly polychoral settings of the psalms, antiphons, hymn and Magnificat, which show Victoria's complete mastery of the art of writing for two or more choirs."

"one is just swept along by the unabashed exuberance of the singing and the sheer glee with which these musicians fill the expectant acoustic with glorious ringing chords and surging, boldly drawn counterpoint"

"Throughout the disc all the strands of polyphony come across clearly and the choir’s diction is excellent. So too is the balance and the blend of the voices. I’m sure the performers would acknowledge that they have been well served by the engineers. The recording is quite full on, presenting the singers with immediacy. This allows great clarity and detail but there’s ample space around the sound."

"The Exon Singers are superb and the sound quality is excellent."


"the Exon Singers acquit themselves exceptionally well in this challenging music. They move with ease from plainchant to polyphony, and the latter is performed with great clarity and energy. Particularly beautiful are the sections for solo voices which are simply radiant, while the polychoral items have great power and impact."


"Daring tempi and breathtaking contrasts are two primary means by which Matthew Owens beings to life Victoria’s intensely personal response to the Marian texts. Behind the grandeur of the composer’s triple-choir polyphony lurks an internal dialogue voiced in reduced, alternatim-style sections. The Exon Singers move fluidly between these two poles, aided by an acoustic that blends whispered petitions as precisely as triumphant proclamations."

"Matthew Owens handles the frequent time-changes particularly well and he imparts a strong sense of continuity during and between successive liturgical items which leads to a strong cumulative experience, Most impressive is the Magnificat with its alternation of solo-sung single-choir verses and double-choir tuttis; there are moments of real devotional excitement here."


Release Date: 7 November 2005
Catalogue No: DCD34025
Total playing time: 1:08:46
Recorded on 3-4 January 2004 at Giggleswick School, North Yorkshire
Producer: Paul Baxter
Engineer: Benjamin Mills
24-bit digital editing: Paul Baxter
24-bit digital mastering: Paul Baxter
Design: John Christ
Cover image: The Annunciation, 1581 (panel), Spanish School (16th century) / Museo de Santa Cruz, Toledo, Spain

Album Booklet

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