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Jommelli: Requiem

Sandrine Piau (soprano), et al; Ghislieri Chorus and Orchestra/Giulio Prandi (Arcana)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Sandrine Piau (soprano), Carlo Vistoli (countertenor), Raffaele Giordani (tenor), Salvo Vitale, Ghislieri Chorus and Orchestra/Giulio Prandi
Arcana A477   49:13 mins

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Neapolitan composer Niccolò Jommelli forged a sober and intimate style in this luminous setting of the Requiem written for the obsequies of the Duchess Maria Augusta of Württemberg in 1756. So highly admired was the work, it was revived for the funeral and memorial services of Canova, Gluck, Rossini and Louis XV, among others. Scored for SATB soloists, choir and strings, it’s stylistically poised between Pergolesi and Mozart in its fluid melding of Neapolitan lyricism and pathos with imposing fugues and richly varied contrapuntal textures.

Giulio Prandi interlaces Jommelli’s elegiac setting with passages of Gregorian chant, reminding us of the work’s original liturgical function and adding an air of apt solemnity. The Ghislieri Choir and Orchestra (based at the Early Music Centre of Ghislieri College in Pavia) are highly responsive to Prandi’s ardent direction, and the plainchant (sung by the Ghislieri Schola Cantorum) is supple and cleanly articulated. The soloists include a radiant Sandrine Piau; the others take a more operatic approach with a rather intrusive use of vibrato – though this is a minor quibble over an otherwise eloquent reading balancing piety and drama to poignant effect.

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Kate Bolton-Porciatti