Paisiello: Missa defunctorum

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COMPOSERS: Paisiello
LABELS: Warner Fonit
WORKS: Missa defunctorum
PERFORMER: Daniela Dessì (soprano), Carmen Gonzales (mezzo-soprano), Paolo Barbacini (tenor), Giorgio Tadeo (bass); Cambridge University Chamber Choir, Martina Franca Festival Orchestra/Alberto Zedda
CATALOGUE NO: 8573-87490-2 ADD Reissue (1981)
Requiems don’t come much more heterogeneous than this. One or two numbers strike a note of due liturgical gravity, but elsewhere the idiom, as in so much late 18th-century sacred music, is unashamedly operatic: by turns sweetly lyrical, excitingly theatrical (in, say, the declamatory ‘Rex tremendae’ for solo soprano) and downright banal. The ‘Confutatis’, with its buffo rhythms and tootling horns, is surely a candidate for the most comically incongruous setting of all time. This 1981 live recording gives a pretty fair idea of a flawed but intriguing work, though you may be slightly fazed by the stylistic discrepancy between the Cambridge University Chamber Choir and the full-blooded Italian soloists, led by the grand, Aida tones of Daniela Dessì. Richard Wigmore