While Thomas Tallis's 40-part motet Spem in Alium is rightly regarded as one of the peaks of late renaissance polyphony, the works that provided its inspiration remain little known. Alessandro Striggio (1536-92) spent his life in the courts of Florence, Ferrara and Mantua, mainly in the service of the Medici family. His works included a motet Ecce Beatam Lucem in 40 parts, and a mass Ecco si Beato Giorno on the same scale, which requires as many as 60 voices for its final Agnus Dei. It's assumed that Striggio brought one or other of these scores with him when he visited London in 1567, when Tallis would have seen them. Both of Striggio's settings differ from the a cappella version of Tallis's work that we generally hear today, for the Italian added a group of continuo instruments to each of the five choirs. For four centuries the mass itself was thought to be lost, but then a set of parts came to light in Paris five years ago, and the work received its first modern performance at the proms in 2007. This is its first recording, alongside the motet on which it seems to have been based, a group of Striggio's secular madrigals and Tallis's familiar masterpiece.
Il Fagiolini cond. Robert Hollingsworth