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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 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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