Despite the unvaried tactus within every piece of the mass (excluding the binary-ternary variations mentioned above), a certain variety of tempos have been employed in the performances heard here. These changes in tempo are suggested by the late date of the composition and the presence of certain indications in the text (adagio, allegro), which seem to imply a modulated rather than mechanical pulse in accordance with the musical expression. The motets are an entirely different matter. The more or less extended solo sections reveal a taste for cantabile writing, melodic line and monodic expressivity, all of which are absent from the masses. Particularly characteristic are the duets, where classic progressions by parallel thirds and sixths alter- nate with sections in dialogue. In the tutti sections, on the other hand, homophonic writing predomi- nates, dictated by the very quick and captivatingly rhythmic declamation of the text. The instrumentation adopted here deserves a separate discussion. On this recording, we have used only two violins and a cello rather than a string quartet. In the late eighteenth century, sacred music no longer required that clarity of contrapuntal texture which the sixteenth and a good part of the seventeenth centuries considered indispensable. Experimentation with sonorities tended, instead, toward underlining contrasts in timbre, and emphasizing the lower or upper parts. Thus, in many balance sheets and expense records concerning musicians employed for particular occasions (concerts or celebrations), we find indications for one or two violins, a cello and a violone, but not a viola. This latter instrument only appeared at especially important events which would have allowed for more sumptuous and therefore more costly forces.
Maria Luisa Baldassari (booklet notes)
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TACTUS: ALESSANDRO SALVOLINI - Missa Defunctorum, Missa brevis, Missa in D & Sacred Works
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