Pekiel: Missa a14; Missa Concertata La Lombardesca
Musicologists have been teasing at the enigma of Polish Baroque music for several decades, but this attractive disc from The Sixteen under their associate conductor, Eamonn Dougan, is perhaps the first to focus solely on the devotional music of a single composer. Bartlomiej Pekiel (fl1633-1670) was the first Pole to be maestro di capella to the Polish monarchy. The Italian job title is significant, for under Sigismund III and his sons, Warsaw and Krakow hosted more than 100 musicians from Brescia, Mantua, Rome and Milan. The motets and lavish masses (Missa a 14 and Missa concertata ‘La Lombardesca’) in this vivaciously contrasted programme demonstrate Pekiel’s fluency with the ordered polyphony of stile antico and the chiaroscuro effects and florid passage work of stile moderna. Most intriguingly, in the Praetorius-like carols Resonet in laudibus and Magnum nomen Domini, we find the no-nonsense aesthetic of the Hanseatic cities.
The choral sound is well-focused in the men-only Ave Maria and the mini-duets for sopranos (Charlotte Mobbs and Alice Gribbin) are stylish. Apart from the edgy haute-contre (high tenor) solos in the Carissimi-influenced rhetoric of Audite mortals, it’s a delightful performance.