Collection: Visitatio

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COMPOSERS: Gregorian Chant
LABELS: L’OISEAU-LYRE
WORKS: Holy Week in Cividale del Friuli
PERFORMER: Catherine Bott, Julia Gooding, Elisabeth Scholl (soprano), Andrew King (tenor), Simon Grant (bass)New London Consort/Philip Pickett
CATALOGUE NO: 455 489-2

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This attempt to reconstruct some of the 14th-century Holy Week and Easter celebrations from the North Italian town of Cividale provides a real sense of occasion. The disc begins with a Palm Sunday procession (acoustically recreated) which culminates in the exultation of the setting of the word ‘hosanna’ in Ingrediente Domino.

Once ‘inside’ the church we have some quieter moments from the Veneration of the Cross on Good Friday: here variety is assured by the use of the organ, and by a snappy rendering of Crux fidelis where each syllable of the text is given equal time irrespective of how many notes are allotted to it.

This section ends with the Lament of the Three Marys – beautiful music, hauntingly sung by Catherine Bott, Julia Gooding and Elisabeth Scholl. These singers also excel in the Easter Sunday liturgical drama, The Visitation to the Sepulchre (oddly placed here after, rather than before, the Introit).

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The final, celebratory section is full of gongs, organ interjections and experimental rhythms (eccentric in Alleluia pasche nostrum, joyously lilting in Laudes Salvator). Philip Pickett has, as usual, shown that he is a man of ideas – and if not all of his ideas have led to authentic details in the performance, he has revealed (with the help of his collaborator, Dr Susan Rankin) the musical and dramatic feasts that lie at the heart of the liturgy. Anthony Pryer