F Scarlatti

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: F Scarlatti
LABELS: Deux-Elles
WORKS: Dixit Dominus; Mass; Miserere
PERFORMER: Emma Kirkby (soprano); Armonico Consort, Concerto Gallese, English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble/ Christopher Monks
This disc will unquestionably fill a gap in the libraries of the most assiduous collectors and assuage the ever-present agony of the would-be completist. Francesco Scarlatti was a younger brother of Alessandro Scarlatti and uncle of Domenico. He lived and worked in Naples and Palermo, where he was born, before travelling to Vienna and, in 1719, to London where he apparently settled for a while. In the mid-1720s he seems to have left London for Dublin where he perhaps died early in the 1740s. Few of his works have survived and I confess that until now I had never heard a note of his music. Indeed, I was not even aware that he had written a Dixit Dominus, one of the three works performed in this interesting programme. The editions have been prepared by Christopher Hair, who also leads the Concerto Gallese instrumental ensemble. The Dixit Dominus and the Mass (Kyrie and Gloria) are large-scale, polychoral pieces for 16 voices with strings and brass. While there are few stylistic surprises, there are nevertheless some felicitous and distinctive melodic ideas – the ‘Donec ponam’ of the Dixit Dominus and the ‘Ecce enim’ of the Miserere offer two such instances – and the general course of direction is pleasingly varied. The Miserere, a more intimate work for voices and string instruments is an affecting piece with a well-sustained concluding double fugue where sackbuts, in this performance at least, make an appearance in the closing phrases. Performances are enjoyable, though the tonal quality of the tenors and basses in exposed passages is not always appealing. An interesting release and a mainly enjoyable one notwithstanding occasional insecurities. Nicholas Anderson