Notes and Editorial Reviews
Lectio II del Giovedi Santo. Lectio III del Venerdì Santo.
Lectio III del Primo Notturno.
. Lectio I del Primo Notturno del Mercoledì Santo.
Sonata VI a 3 Violini
Antonio Florio, cond; Valentina Varriale (sop); I Turchini (period instruments)
GLOSSA 922602 (64:09
The Spanish label Glossa seems to be releasing a fair amount of sacred music, especially from the Neapolitan realms of the 17th and 18th centuries, such as the rerelease of the Alessandro Scarlatti
reviewed elsewhere, though to be fair they are also a conduit, as in this recording, for other European firms as well. This selection of late 17th-century Lessons from Holy Week, along with a few instrumental works for filler, fits nicely within Glossa’s repertoire, which includes Johann Sebastian Bach and Pierre Bouteiller, in addition to a rather quirky offering titled
Monteverdi Meets Jazz
. The title of this disc is
, which are, of course, settings of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, though these are not the complete set of texts for the entire Setimana Santa; in addition there are two instrumental works, the first a Corelli-like four-movement sonata for three violins and continuo by Giuseppe Avitrano (1670–1756) and a sinfonia da chiesa by Gaetano Veneziano (1665–1716). Both are just the sort of works that would provide contemplative filler for the services for which the vocal music was written, although there are some quirks here, too. In the Avitrano, for instance, the solemn dotted rhythms of the first movement are followed, as expected, by a fugal second, but the third turns very hymnlike, and the fourth, though stark in texture, is rather similar to a gigue. The second movement of the three-movement Veneziano has a series of hesitant chords in the strings, an effective and powerful transition between the two more contrapuntally active outer movements.
It is in the vocal portions, however, that the music really becomes interesting. In the first Lection by Cristoforo Caresana (1640–1709), the vocal line weaves in and out of a larger ensemble texture, with fluid ritornellos in the strings and a smooth continuo foundation. The second reminds one of Carissimi, though the accompaniment is thicker. There are hints of the
, but the work is hardly old-fashioned. Veneziano, however, is far more daring in his settings. The opening lesson of the Primo Notturno has a Jubilate that is vibrant in its gigue character, with a nice series of ornamented lines that would be more at home with Alessandro Scarlatti or, at the least, late Alessandro Stradella. And the final offering, the first lesson for Ash Wednesday at Nocturnes, is positively Vivaldian, with a nice set of spun out violin lines and a vocal part that demands considerable dexterity.
Soprano Valentina Varriale handles the various difficulties of these works with ease and dexterity. She wisely foregoes adding extra ornamentation, allowing the melismas to function as the contours of the text. She has a good sense of pitch and phrasing, which makes it a pleasant listening experience. She never dominates or allows the nicely balanced playing of I Turchini to overshadow her, rather functioning as an integral part of the ensemble, very much as it probably was when these works were first performed. All in all Antonio Florio has provided a well-disciplined ensemble that knows how to extract the most out of the text through precise playing.
There may not be a large market for Lamentations, but those who are interested in a largely forgotten genre that was once popular, especially in cities like Naples, will really need to have this disc in their collections. It makes a nice change from the usual oratorios, masses, and motets of the period.
FANFARE: Bertil van Boer
Works on This Recording
Sinfonia a 7 by Gaetano Veneziano
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