Photo: Marcus Obai (Wikipedia)
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.