“The Spanish choir El León de Oro, led by choir guru Peter Phillips, has risen to the forefront of vocal polyphony. With a novelty released by Hyperion, the choir performs its own music, 16th-century Spanish polyphony, but the composer is not Tomas Luis de Victoria, but Francisco Guerrero, who has overshadowed him. The repertoire extends from Magnificat through Lamentations to folk song arrangements, so a comprehensive music solution is available for the spring-winter fast and Easter season.
It’s often hard for me to sense anything other than bright festivity from vocal polyphony, but fortunately this record conveys the diversity of styles and moods that contemporaries praised Guerrero. The lamentations sound incisive, timeless grief, while in the songs dedicated to Mary, the bright gratitude and human amazement flutter and mingle – Guerrero fluctuates moods faster and bolder than many of his contemporaries. The moods of traditional Spanish music are appeased at the end of the album in the arrangements of spiritual folk songs from Guerrero.
El León de Oro sings with a supportive and bright sound formation which, together with extreme unity, creates the same sense of security for the listener as a cool, soaring cathedral. You can come to the safety of this music at any time to breathe for a moment and gather strength.