Petrassi: Magnificat

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COMPOSERS: Goffredo Petrassi
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Petrassi: Magnificat
WORKS: Magnificat; Salmo IXº
PERFORMER: Sabina Cvilak (soprano); Coro Teatro Regio Torino/Claudio Fenoglio; Orchestra Teatro Regio Torino/Gianandrea Noseda


It’s very gratifying to see Chandos and Gianandrea Noseda, after their valuable series of Dallapiccola recordings, turning their attention to his equally significant Italian contemporary, Goffredo Petrassi. These two comparatively early sacred choral works from the 1930s are both major utterances: the Magnificat is a premiere recording, while the only other recorded version of Salmo IX (1934-36) is a mono Italian Radio broadcast from 1962. Though derivative (of Hindemith and Stravinsky in Salmo IX , and with specific reminiscences of the latter’s Symphony of Psalms in the Magnificat) they also display a strong, Italianate character of their own, and an exhilarating mastery of large forces.

Salmo IX is monumental, pitting the chorus in tonal blocks against brass, strings, percussion and two pianos, with a plethora of fanfare, while the neo-Baroque Magnificat (1939-40) is a more dramatic conception that is at once intricately contrapuntal and intimate. Petrassi gives much of the spotlight to a ‘light soprano’ (soprano leggero) soloist, here sung admirably by Sabina Cvilak. She sounds sweet, warm, and electrifying when required, and Noseda directs his Turin forces with authority and understanding of these powerful works. I hope Chandos will give us more Petrassi from this team – the later choral pieces Coro di Morti, Noche Oscura and Orationes Christi are crying out for modern recordings.


Calum MacDonald