Many-part Choral Works

A frequent question which occurs on the newsgroup is: What Renaissance choral masterpieces use large numbers of independent vocal lines?

By far the most famous of these is the 40-part "Spem in alium" of the English composer Thomas Tallis (c.1505-1585).

Other prominent examples include the 36-part canon "Deo gratias" sometimes attributed to Johannes Ockeghem, the 19-part "O bone Jesu" of Robert Carver (c.1484-c.1568), and the 12-part "Earthquake Mass" of Antoine Brumel (c.1460-1515). Of course, there are also many other examples (especially from Italy c.1600), but they are generally less well-known individually.

If you are looking for recordings, here are a few. The first is especially aimed at illustrating this style of piece.

Utopia Triumphans
The Great Polyphony of the Renaissance
Huelgas Ensemble - Paul Van Nevel
Sony Vivarte 66261
Scottish Renaissance Polyphony
Carver: 10-part Mass, O Bone Jesu, Gaude Flore Virginali
Cappella Nova - Alan Tavener
AS&V Gaudeamus 124
Brumel: Missa Et ecce terrae motus
Huelgas Ensemble - Paul Van Nevel
Sony Vivarte 46348

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Todd M. McComb