WORKS: The Songs of Solomon, Vol. 2
PERFORMER: New York Baroque/Eric Milnes; Edward Brewer (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: DOR-93220 Reissue (1996)
Imagine Monteverdi in Hebrew for the High Holy Days, and you have Salamone Rossi, the Jewish composer at the court of Mantua, exempted by gracious ducal dispensation from wearing the yellow ‘Jew star’ of his time. Rossi’s self-punning Songs of Solomon form a collection of psalms, hymns and liturgical texts which New York Baroque has taken to its heart.
Following its survey of the Sabbath music, this second volume focuses on festival services, and includes three- to five-part settings meticulously recorded and occasionally over-meticulously performed by this ensemble of eight voices. If the singers could only relax their rhythmic grip, they could revere a little less and relish more the verbal and harmonic language of these undersung treasures of the late Renaissance. Hilary Finch