“There have been some fine recordings of Victoria's music in recent years, but none finer than this one at its best. The Cardinall's Musick has become known for its CDs of English renaissance polyphony, but its approach, which joint directors Andrew Carwood and David Skinner describe as 'open and soloistic', works extremely well here, too. The two contrasted Mass settings are given the same highly expressive treatment as the motets, which, sung one to a part, have a madrigalian quality bringing out beautifully the natural, unforced rhetoric of Victoria's idiom.
The Missa Gaudeamus, based on a Morales motet, is scored for six voices. Performed with only two singers on each part, it sounds as rich and dark as the strongest chocolate; the overall blend is superb, clear and strikingly well balanced.
With only two female voices on the upper part, the polyphonic texture isn't, as is so often the case, top-heavy; each strand carries equal weight, just as the densely contrapuntal writing demands.
The final canonic Agnus Dei is sublime, and throughout – even in the longer movements – Carwood's sure-footed pacing allows the polyphony to ebb and flow like the swell of the sea.
The Missa pro Victoria, based on Janequin's chanson, La guerre, could hardly be more different in its forward-looking polychoral idiom.
Here the writing is more condensed, more economical, but nevertheless highly dramatic. The ending of the Gloria is breathtaking, as is the magical opening of the Sanctus and the final 'dona nobis pacems' of the Agnus Dei. The clarion calls of the second Kyrie are equally striking.
There are so many high spots on this disc that it's simply impossible to mention them all, and this is perhaps still more to the group's credit given that, as explained in the notes, a bout of flu among the singers can't have made for the easiest of recording sessions.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010