Palest­rina

BBC Music Magazine - - Choral & Song Reviews -

Missa Con­fite­bor tibi Domine; Ricer­car del sesto tuono; In­tro­duxit me rex in cel­lam; Ricer­car del Quinto tuono; Bene­dicta sit sancta Trini­tas; Lo­que­ban­tur variis lin­guis; Mag­ni­fi­cat primi toni; Con­feti­bor tibi Domine Bruce Dickey (cor­nett), Li­uwe Tam­minga (or­gan); Yale Scholar Can­to­rum/david Hill

Hype­r­ion CDA 68210 70:24 mins Writ­ten for the pa­pal choir, the lush Missa Con­fite­bor tibi Domine – based on Palest­rina’s eight-voice motet of the same name – is nowa­days a sel­dom heard work, mak­ing this record­ing all the more wel­come. The com­poser’s na­tive Ro­man tra­di­tion is splashed here with Vene­tian colours: first, in the use of ‘cori spez­zati’, a tech­nique de­vel­oped at St Mark’s, Venice, which sep­a­rates the choir into sub-groups to cre­ate dra­matic an­tiphonal and acous­ti­cal ef­fects; and, se­condly, in in­ter­lac­ing the Mass move­ments with em­bel­lished ver­sions of Palest­rina’s motets ar­ranged for cor­nett and or­gan – a prac­tice and sound­world pe­cu­liarly pop­u­lar in the Serenis­sima (in­deed, two of these adap­ta­tions are by the Vene­tian com­poser Gio­vanni Bas­sano). The re­sult is a richly var­ied mu­si­cal ta­pes­try, avoid­ing the some­times mo­not­o­nous ef­fect of an en­tire disc of a cap­pella polyphony.

Un­der the mas­terly di­rec­tion of David Hill, this crack stu­dent choir pro­duces a clean yet lux­u­ri­ant sound, ref lect­ing the sump­tu­ous vo­cal re­sources that might have been used on a ma­jor feast day in one of the Ro­man churches. The sa­cred acous­tic, slightly dis­tant place­ment of the mi­cro­phones, and seraphic high voices all com­bine to cre­ate an ethe­real ef­fect – in­deed, the pri­or­ity here is on pure tim­bral beauty rather than on text-driven ar­tic­u­la­tion. As a re­sult, the words don’t al­ways cut through and ver­bal nu­ances are rather lost – though these are mi­nor caveats to what are other­wise pris­tine ac­counts. The in­stru­men­tal play­ing is both stylish and, at times, vir­tu­osic – no­tably Bruce Dickey’s f loridly im­pro­vised or­na­men­ta­tion and daz­zling agility. Kate Bolton-por­ci­atti PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★ RECORD­ING ★★★★

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