Decca’s World-Premiere Recording of Alessandro Striggio’s 40-Part Mass Debuts on Top of British Classical Charts

Available in US on March 29, 2011

Decca is proud to present I Fagiolini in the world-premiere recording of Alessandro Striggio’s 40-part mass Ecco si beato giorno, available March 29th. The work, long rumored to exist but only recently re-discovered in Paris, possibly inspired one of the greatest works of polyphony, Tallis’s Spem in alium, which is also included on the release. The album is completed by other Striggio works and is accompanied by a bonus DVD. After being released last week in the UK, the release has debuted at #1 on the Specialist Classical Chart, ending the months-long dominance of André Rieu. The album will be released in the US on March 29.

Alessandro Striggio was an Italian composer and Mantuan nobleman who split his time primarily between Mantua and Medici Florence. It is known that in 1561 he wrote a piece for choir in 40 separate parts in honor of two papal envoys and though the source specifies neither title nor location for the performance there is good reason to suppose that the song was the motet Ecce beatam lucem. In 1568 we again hear of a Striggio forty-part motet, this time entertaining guests at a banquet during the wedding celebrations of the Wittelsbach heir in Munich. Again no title is given, but the official account of the celebrations puts it beyond doubt that this was Ecce beatam lucem, a work that is widely performed and recorded, though until now with purely vocal forces.

By 1566, Striggio had composed his Mass based on Ecco sì beato giorno in forty parts. But the musical material the Mass develops is also to be found in Ecce beatam lucem, which suggests that Ecco and Ecce must have been very similar or, quite possibly, one a straight re-texting of the other. The Mass itself was believed lost until Davitt Moroney uncovered the parts in Paris very recently. This world-premiere recording reveals the mass to be a spectacularly colorful and dramatic work. The individual voices, divided into five eight-voice choirs, are each distinguishable and many are decorated or augmented with instrumental lines, including contributions from strings, brass, reeds and recorders.

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