Despite the splendour of his publications and despite the early date at which Victoria got his music into print, he was not by the standards of his time prolific. Just twenty Masses have come down to us. Fifteen are ‘parodies’ (Masses based on a pre-existing work), one is freely composed, and four (including two Requiems
) are ‘paraphrase’ Masses, that is to say they are based on plainchant. The Missa O quam gloriosum
is based on Victoria’s own joyful motet of 1572. Tovey called it one of the most perfect ever written. The Mass is concise; it frequently takes over whole portions of the motet and somehow balances great simplicity with a marvellous controlled fervour that is typical of Victoria. It has become the most loved and performed of all his Masses in modern times. It is written in the G mixolydian mode which, in Victoria’s hands, is frequently straight G major. One magical moment of reverent simplicity is the section ‘et incarnatus est’ in the Credo. It is difficult to imagine anything else so brief and effective. Even the Agnus Dei of this Mass is short and just a single setting (here repeated by custom to the final words ‘dona nobis pacem’).
from notes by Bruno Turner © 1984