LABELS: Deutsche Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Requiem; Miserere; Credo
PERFORMER: Balthasar Neumann Ensemble & Choir/Thomas Hengelbrock
CATALOGUE NO: 05472 77507 2
Lotti was Maestro di capella at St Mark’s, Venice, for four years, from 1736 to his death in 1740. For one from such an illustrious tradition – Monteverdi, Cavalli, Legrenzi (his teacher) – he has been strangely neglected. These three works are performed colourfully, with clean vocal lines and generally tidy orchestral playing. In a dryish acoustic, recorded sound is rather close and abrasive at the start, though it seems warmer later, perhaps after some judicious repositioning.
Stylistically Lotti is hard to pin down. The Miserere in D minor is for four-part chorus, its textures recalling the reserved counterpoint of Palestrina while its harmonies are forward-looking and at times startlingly dissonant. The Requiem, for soloists, chorus and orchestra, is full of unexpected gesture and imaginative device. At the start, voices emerge almost imperceptibly from among orchestral strings; powerful orchestral chords introduce a terrifying ‘Dies irae’; operatic gestures abound – faintly comical staccato choral chords open the ‘Rex tremendae’. The first ‘Kyrie’ is engagingly classical, the second unmistakably Handelian.
Outstanding is the ‘Crucifixus’ of the Credo, piling dissonance upon agonising dissonance until the final release into a major cadence – wonderful music, perhaps that which, in 1770, Dr. Burney admitted ‘affected me even to tears’. George Pratt