A Scarlatti: CDixit Dominus; Laudate pueri; Laetatus sum; Salve Regina

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: A Scarlatti
WORKS: CDixit Dominus; Laudate pueri; Laetatus sum; Salve Regina
PERFORMER: Susanne Rydén, Dominique Labelle (soprano), Ryland Angel (mezzo-soprano), Michael Slattery (tenor), Neal Davies (bass); Philharmonia Chorale, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra/Nicholas McGegan
This collection of Cecilian Vespers represents Scarlatti’s music for the celebration of St Cecilia’s Day 1721 in the Roman church of Santa Maria di Trastevere. Until recently some of the music for the occasion was thought lost, so this premiere recording makes an important contribution to our knowledge of Scarlatti’s output. Although the music was intended for a liturgical context, Scarlatti knew well that drama and virtuosity were essential ingredients on such a major feast day. He duly provided a colourful mosaic of jubilant choruses, lyrical solos, flamboyant showpieces and some fine ensembles. If at times the music lapses into the formulaic and archaic, there are, too, some ravishing moments. This is an exuberant account filled with all the tension and adrenalin of a live performance. Orchestral playing is clean and lithe, textures are transparent and the choral and solo singing is ebullient and stylish. Nicholas McGegan imbues the whole with exhilarating vigour and pizzazz, though at times his direction is rather unyielding. When he dares to let the music breathe – notably in the sensuous ‘Et humilia’ section of Laudate pueri or the conclusion of ‘Vanum’ from the setting of Nisi Dominus – the results are truly exquisite. Kate Bolton