This is the recording of Portuguese composer Pedro de Cristo’s (c.1550-1618) Christmas responsory O magnum mysterium. A comparison in terms of form and structure can be immediatly made between this and Tomás Luis de Victoria’s setting of the same text or, at least part of it, since in Victoria’s motet there are two “alleluia” sections.
Cristo’s setting is corresponds to the fourth responsorial form (ABCB), for the first responsory of the second nocturn of Christmas matins. The first and second parts are written for four voices (SATB) and the verse is for (SAB). This is a well-known piece among Portuguese amateur choirs (there are no doubts regarding the beauty of this work) and it is usually presented not as part of the Matins responsories but as a isolated work, sometimes together with the Beata viscera Maria.
I recorded this work with Ensemble da Sé de Angra at Angra Cathedral last Summer. One of the fine works we have in our programme and it was very nice to have performed it with the group since , in my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful works of Portuguese polyphony.