Legrenzi: Dies irae; Sonatas; Motets

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LABELS: Ricercar
WORKS: Dies irae; Sonatas; Motets
PERFORMER: Ricercar Consort/Philippe Pierlot
The 17th-century Venetian composer Legrenzi is still under-represented on disc. As well as serving as maestro di musica at one of the four Venetian orphanages, Legrenzi eventually followed in Monteverdi’s footsteps as Prime maestro at the Basilica of St Mark’s. And, in common with some other Italian composers, his sacred music found favour outside Italy and especially at the Habsburg court of Leopold I in Vienna. This new release features three of Legrenzi’s sacred vocal works, one of them an impressive setting of the ‘Dies irae’, which may or may not once have been part of a full Requiem Mass. And in addition the Ricercar Consort plays two of the composer’s sonatas for a quartet of viols from one of his finest sets, La cetra, dedicated to Emperor Leopold I. The programmes focal point is undoubtedly the ‘Dies irae’ for two four-part vocal groups, each complemented by a viol quartet. The polychoral style rests on the cusp of the late Baroque, with the eight voices fulfilling solo, ensemble and tutti functions as required. Counterbalancing the expressive austerity of the Dies irae are two very well sung solo motets for soprano and bass, respectively. One of them, Angelorum ad convivia is entrusted to Susan Hamilton, whose crystal clear articulation and youthful declamation are constant pleasures. Nicholas Anderson