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Striggio Mass In 40 Parts

Move over, Thomas Tallis - more music in 40 parts!

Florence, Italy

Photo: Marcus Obai (Wikipedia)

The Florence Cathedral at night.

In 2011,  Decca released a recording and accompanying DVD made by I Fagiolini, led by Robert Hollingworth. It includes music of one to 40 parts, most of it composed by Alessandro Striggio.

Sixteenth-century Florence had an established tradition of large-scale musical settings, which is not completely surprising for the city-state run by the wealthy Medici family.  It is, however, extraordinary that by 1566, Alessandro Striggio had composed both a motet and a mass in forty parts.

His mass calls for eight choirs of five parts, bringing to mind Thomas Tallis’ later 40-part composition, Spem in alium, which is also included on this recording.  Tallis was apparently familiar with Striggio’s work from a trip that Striggio made to England in 1567 and was in fact trying to outdo him.

Striggio: Mass in 40 Parts
I Fagiolini (Decca, 2011)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

Striggio: Mass in 40 Parts
I Fagiolini (Decca, 2011)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Wendy Gillespie

Wendy Gillespie is Professor of Music, teaching early bowed strings and performance studies, at the Early Music Institute of the Jacobs School of Music, Bloomington, IN and President of the VdGSA. As a viola da gamba player, she has made more than 80 CDs and performed on five continents.

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  • Kittybriton

    I would be interested to know more about what “40 parts” means in real terms, given that in modern harmonic writing, there are only really three harmonic tones in any given chord, and perhaps four or five if additional tones are added …

  • http://www.luiscfhenriques.com/ Luís Henriques

    Indeed, a great project by Hollingworth of fantastic music. Although this mass was already performed by The Tallis Scholars in a BBC Proms concert, this is still a great achievement of a commercial value for early music lovers.

    Looking forward for “Spem in Alium”.

    Best wishes,
    Luís Henriques

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