The Blossoming Vine: Italian Maestri in Poland

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COMPOSERS: Anerio,Bertolusi,Pacelli
ALBUM TITLE: The Blossoming Vine: Italian Maestri in Poland
WORKS: Anerio: Missa Pulchra es; Salve Regina; Litania deiparae Virginis; Bertolusi: Sacrae Cantiones, libro primo (1601) – Ego flos campi; Osculetor me osculo; Regina Caeli; Pacelli: Veni Sponsa Christi; Beata es Virgo Maria; Dum esset rex
PERFORMER: The Sixteen/Eamonn Dougan


Following the success of their recording devoted to Polish composer Bartomiej Pe˛kiel, The Sixteen continue their exploration of music-making in early 17th-century Poland, here through the voices of three Italians employed in Kraków and Warsaw: Giovanni Anerio, Vincenzo Bertolusi and Asprilio Pacelli. The centrepiece of the programme is Anerio’s Missa Pulchra es, a seraphic double-choir work based on a motet by Palestrina (whose shadow has unfairly obscured Anerio’s distinctive talent). The Sixteen luxuriate in its textures and sonorities, offsetting serene, arching lines with more urgent, declamatory passages. The recording highlights the work’s rich antiphonal effects.

The fragrant words of the Song of Songs inspired ravishing settings by the little-known composers Vincenzo Bertolusi and Asprilio Pacelli. Bertolusi’s seven-voice motet Osculetor me osculo is a particularly fine response to the sensuous imagery of the text, its liquid vocal lines pliantly shaped here by conductor Eamonn Dougan. Roman composer Pacelli pulls out all the stops (figuratively speaking, though the work does include an organ) in Dum esset rex, a sumptuous ‘colossal Baroque’ edifice scored for 20 voices in five choirs, with a daunting vocal range. The Sixteen respond magnificently: basses plummet while sopranos soar into the stratosphere in a swirl of all-embracing sound.


Kate Bolton