Tomas Luis de Victoria was the most important musical figure in the late Spanish Renaissance. His sacred music has warmth and an arguably more direct emotional appeal than that of Palestrina (a major influence, though probably not his teacher as has been speculated); there is less contrapuntal complexity and a harmonic language more personally connected to the text. Examples can be heard in today’s motet O Domine, Jesu Christe. Listen for the harmonic stasis on the word ‘aceto’ [gall] contrasted with the rich harmonic motion under the word ‘vulnera’ [wounds]. The piece unfolds simply over the first three words saving the poignant harmony for ‘Christe’. Written for Palm Sunday, it has both a passionate and a sombre quality appropriate to the season.
© Michael Beattie