Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611): Ne Timeas Maria (transcr).

Uniquely amongst the compositional giants of his time Tomás Luis de Victoria composed only liturgical music set to Latin texts. Understandably this had led to his music being performed in modern times almost exclusively by choirs, while it is understandable it is nevertheless a pity because it means we miss out on an entire class of music, transcriptions of de Victoria’s compositions, that was greatly enjoyed by de Victoria’s contemporaries and played no small part in spreading his fame throughout Christendom.  There are arrangements of his music in existence for a bewildering range of  instruments running the gamut from keyboard to plucked string instruments such as the lute or vihuela. It’s not surprising when you think about it – something very similar goes on when large-scale music is transcribed for piano, and the lute and vihuela players of de Victoria’s time would have been eager to expand their repertoire by ‘appropriating’ for domestic performance music that would already be familiar to their listeners from their attendance at church. (De Victoria was by no means the only composer whose large-scale music was adapted for domestic performance in this way music by Josquin, Gombert, Guerrero, and de Morales to name but four appear in similar collections of transcribed music – mfi). I feel that de Victoria’s music is particularly suited to transcription because of the great care he took with the details of all his music, his smaller scale compositions – his motets and responsories work quite as well as his larger scale works – the Masses and great antiphons. These transcriptions are often quite as beautiful as their original and I’ll be posting a few of them as I think they deserve to be far better known. I’m starting with Ne Timeas Maria performed below the counter-tenor Carlos Mena, accompanied on the vihuela by Juan Carlos Rivera. I hope you’ll enjoy it at least as much as I do.


Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611): Ne Timeas Maria (transcr).

Ne timeas, Maria;
invenisti enim gratiam
apud Dominum:
ecce concipies in utero,
et paries filium,
et vocabitur Altissimi Filius.
Fear not, Mary,
for thou hast found favour
with the Lord;
and behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb
and bring forth a son;
and he shall be called the Son of the Most High.


Carlos Mena – counter-tenor, Juan Carlos Rivera – vihuela.

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