Caldara: Missa dolorosa; Stabat mater; Sinfonia in G minor; Sinfonia in E minor

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WORKS: Missa dolorosa; Stabat mater; Sinfonia in G minor; Sinfonia in E minor
PERFORMER: Swiss-Italian Radio Chorus, Aura Musicale, Budapest/René Clemencic
CATALOGUE NO: 8.554715
Caldara was a contemporary of Vivaldi and, like him, a Venetian. During the earlier part of his life he stayed in Italy, working in Mantua, Florence, Genoa and Rome as well as his native Venice. But in 1715, having successfully applied for a senior musical post at the Austrian court, Caldara upped sticks and left for Vienna where he remained until his death in 1736. This disc contains music belonging to the composer’s Viennese period and, more especially, to the court’s Lenten schedule.

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The two instrumental items are Sinfonias from oratorios which Caldara produced at the rate of at least one a year between his arrival and his death. But it is two vocal works which occupy far and away the greater part of the programme. The Stabat mater is an elaborate setting of the full poem which reveals Caldara’s mastery both of homophonic and imitative writing. Chromaticism, suspension and instrumental colour, which are prominent features both of the Stabat mater and the beautiful Missa dolorosa further intensify his affective responses to the texts.

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The Choir of Swiss-Italian Radio is a bright-sounding ensemble whose textural blend is occasionally marred by over-zealous individual contributions; but ample compensation is provided both by its vocal quality and by the mainly fresh, unaffected singing of the soloists. The spacious recording acoustic captures the woodwind and brass sections of the Budapest Aura Musicale very well indeed. All is directed with assurance by René Clemencic. Nicholas Anderson