We are a spoilt and jaded audience indeed in Oxford. Newly resurrected or never-before performed works of theatre and music are standard fare, hardly meriting a raised eyebrow, let alone a raised glass. This phenomenon is particularly true of early choral music, where the field is saturated with such an assault of delights that it’s all too easy to forget – in fact – to be delighted by it all.

With musicologist Owen Rees as its conductor, The Queen’s College Choir is a frequent source of unusual repertoire, courtesy of Rees’s research interests in the music of the Spanish and Portuguese renaissance. Weeding out the neglected treasures from the deservedly obscure dross, the choir’s concerts provide a refreshing glimpse (particularly at this time of year) into luscious choral wallowings not perpetrated by John Rutter. Last Friday’s performance of Duarte Lobo’s Requiem and assorted works of the Portuguese Golden Age was a timely reminder that, while the 19th century may have the loudest claim on Romanticism, the composers of the 17th century were the original masters of emotion.

With its tumbling sequences of suspensions and glorious densely-woven polyphony, Lobo’s eight-part Requiem is a rarely-heard masterpiece, and one that exploits the full textural variations and colours of its unaccompanied vocal forces. Interspersed with motets, its movements formed the centrepiece of the concert, with the clean vocal lines providing an aural palate-cleanser between more overtly dramatic and programmatic works such as Juan de Avila’s throbbing and angst-filled Circumdederunt Me and Leitao de Avila’s Lamentations.

The choir – rare in Oxford – was balanced in favour of the men, and even in passages dominated by the lightly flowing exchanges of the soprano lines there was a real sense of harmonic and textural rootedness. Always elegant and nuanced in their phrasing, the ensemble was a joy, relishing the generous acoustic of the college chapel that makes such sense of this music. Yet lovely and tasteful as it was, there were moments (increasingly fewer as the concert progressed) where there was something rather passive in the sound – the vocal equivalent of a supermodel: gorgeous and accomplished, but occasionally a little dead behind the eyes. If the choir could only commit as wholeheartedly to the drama of the Portuguese renaissance as to its techniques, then even the most jaded of concert-goers would be forced to take note.