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Harmonia Early Music

Striggio Mass In 40 Parts

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

The 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.

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Wendy Gillespie

Wendy Gillespie, Director of the Bloomington Bach Cantata Project, is Professor Emerita of Music at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University and Past President of the Viola da Gamba Society of America. In 2011 she was awarded Early Music America’s Thomas Binkley Award, and in 2012 a Wellesley College Alumnae Achievement Award. She continues to enjoy her career as a performing musician, having made more than 100 recordings and performed on five continents. Wendy began working with Harmonia in January 2012.

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