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COMPOSERS: Zipoli/Schmid/Anon
LABELS: Chemins du Baroque
WORKS: San Ignacio
PERFORMER: Ensemble Elyma, Ensemble Luis Berger, Capilla Cisplatina, Pro Arte Foundation of Córdoba Youth Chorus/Gabriel Garrido
CATALOGUE NO: K 617065 (distr. Discovery)
This disc illuminates one of the more remarkable ventures of Western musical culture: the attempts in the 18th century of the Jesuit missionaries of Chiquitos (in what is now Bolivia, where this was recorded) not only to recreate the glories of music at the Castilian court but to forge an opera appropriate to the mission. Using extant sources where possible, Bernard Illari has reconstructed, with some additions, the opera San Ignacio (by Zipoli, Schmid and others) as it may have been performed for the native Amazonian peoples, although without the didactic spoken drama. The work is in two parts: the first shows St Ignatius overcoming spiritual crisis and temptation; the second depicts his parting from St Francis Xavier. Despite its colonial self-justifications, the work is often inventive and enjoyable – the final duet is particularly moving here. Under the musical direction of Gabriel Garrido, the singers give convincing and impressive performances and the players, on period instruments, powerfully evoke a peculiar Baroque sensibility. Also enjoyable are the ‘imported’ works, especially Johann Brentner’s exuberant Cantemus Domino. William Humphreys-Jones