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Magnificat primi toni a 8

author of text
Luke 1: 46-55

Palestrina’s Magnificat primi toni for eight voices was copied into a large choirbook for the papal choir, probably in the late 1580s. Not intended for publication, it is not written for spatially separated choirs: though there is now more consistency in the division, some sections combine voices from across the two choirs. Tutti writing is again scarce, confined to the words ‘omnes generationes’ (‘all generations’) and to the end of the piece; most verses see the two groups alternating, using a largely chordal texture enlivened by scales and other figuration. This frequent exchange is marked by regular cadences which give a tonal G minor feeling to the music which is notated, like Confitebor tibi and the Mass, in the first (Dorian) mode transposed up a fourth to G. The text of the Magnificat, taken from Luke’s Gospel, speaks of Mary’s happiness in accepting her role as mother of the Saviour, while also stressing her Son’s mission to the poor. Palestrina reduces his forces to a quartet of two sopranos, alto and tenor for the key phrase ‘Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est: et sanctum nomen eius’ (‘For he that is mighty has done wondrous things for me: and holy is his name’), making particularly effective use of two intertwining sopranos. He uses just the six lower voices for the next phrase, ‘Et misericordia eius a progenie in progenies timentibus eum’ (‘And his mercy is upon them that fear him throughout all generations’), before returning to eight voices for the remainder of the setting.

from notes by Noel O'Regan © 2018


Palestrina: Missa Confitebor tibi Domine & other works
CDA682102 February 2018 Release
A choral tapestry
Studio Master: SIGCD283Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Palestrina: Missa Aeterna Christi munera & other sacred music
The Tallis Scholars Live in Rome
GIMDP903This album is not available for download
The Tallis Scholars Live in Rome


Track 13 on CDA68210 [4'38] 2 February 2018 Release
Track 11 on GIMDP903 [6'27]
Track 11 on CDGIM994 [6'27]
Track 14 on CDH55368 [6'10]
Track 6 on SIGCD283 [4'25] Download only

Track-specific metadata for CDA66490 track 14

Recording date
15 February 1991
Recording venue
Westminster Cathedral, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Antony Howell
Hyperion usage
  1. Palestrina: Missa Aeterna Christi munera & other sacred music (CDA66490)
    Disc 1 Track 14
    Release date: August 1991
    Deletion date: October 2008
    Superseded by CDH55368
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