COMPOSERS: Cavalli,Croce,G Gabrieli,Grandi,Marini & Merulo,Monteverdi
LABELS: Deutsche Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Music for San Marco in Venice
PERFORMER: Balthasar Neumann Choir & Ensemble/Thomas Hengelbrock
CATALOGUE NO: 05472 77531 2
Thomas Hengelbrock comes with excellent credentials as a Baroque performer and this disc is everywhere stylish and engaging. Some of the pieces have less to do with San Marco and more to do with Hengelbrock’s interest in the violin (the sonata by Biagio Marini is exquisitely played), but, even so, it would be difficult to find a more impressive array of sacred works from Venice on a single disc. Naturally Monteverdi is represented, but only by one work, Dixit Dominus II, which is executed brilliantly in rapid-fire style.
There are also fine pieces by Giovanni Gabrieli (his ‘O Jesu mi dulcissime’ has extraordinary harmonies) and Alessandro Grandi, whose ‘Plorabo die ac nocte’ allows the soloists to shine. The star of the show, however, is Monteverdi’s pupil Francesco Cavalli. If you know where to look it is not difficult to find recordings of Cavalli’s wonderful Lauda Jerusalem and his Magnificat, but the high pitch, fast tempo and musical panache of these performances easily surpasses the recordings made by Paul McCreesh in 1993 for Archiv, Bruce Dickey in 1995 for Harmonia Mundi and Françoise Lasserre in 1996 for the Pierre Verany label.
There are a few infelicities of balance during one or two items, but the overall effect is delightful. Anthony Pryer