All of these works demonstrate that Scarlatti was a master of vocal music, knowing when to unleash the often tortuous melismatic coloratura and when to hold it back for simplicity. Of the organ pieces, if one is expecting a North German sound of a Buxtehude or Bach, these will seem rather more simple, but the careful unfolding of the lines is elegant, restrained, and altogether more integrated to a musical service than extensive virtuosity. You might notice that I have avoided the antiphon Salve Regina in this brief excursus. The reason is that, of the five vocal items attributed to Scarlatti, this one is the most problematic. Not only is it bound alongside a Pange lingua attributed to Francesco Provenzale, another minor figure of Neapolitan church music, the first thing that strikes one immediately upon listening is that sections of the Salve Regina and “Ad te clamamus” are practically note-for-note equal to Giovanni Pergolesi’s justly famed Stabat Mater . Indeed, comparatively speaking, the style of this work is so Pergolesian that it could only have been written in the 1730s, several years after Scarlatti’s death. The writer of the booklet notes, Luca della Libera, hints that this might be the case, but he stops short of saying so; I would venture to guess that Scarlatti has little to do with this Salve Regina , though this does not of course have a bearing on the quality of this highly dramatic work with its gorgeous vocal suspensions in the “Ad te suspiramus” or the mournful “Eja ergo.”
The performances are extremely accurate and, what is more, bring this music to life. Gemma Bertagnolli’s soprano is crisp and clear, and her ornamentation, sometimes difficult and extensive such as the sinuous “Sicut sagite” in the Nisi Dominus, is sharp and focused. Her soprano counterpart, Adriana Fernandez, has a slightly darker tone to her voice, but she too handles the rapid-fire ornaments with skill and ease, for example in the “Eja surgite” of the Mortales non auditis . What is more, both blend well together completely in tune with the running violin lines. Add to this a fabulous pair of contraltos, Sara Mingardo and countertenor Martin Oro, who are equally adept, and you have an absolutely first-rate ensemble. Mingardo’s “Sicut sagittae” in the Nisi Dominus makes it clear where Vivaldi got his notion of the coloratura in his Psalm setting of the same name. Add to this a secure tenor in Furio Zanasi and you have the makings of a first-rate group of voices (basso Antonio Abete is likewise fine but has a limited role as a soloist). Andrea Coen’s registration in the organ works is extremely subtle with nice contrasts and no bombast. As for Concerto de’ Cavalieri, Marcello di Lisa delivers a group that is precise, accurate in terms of pitch, and blends well. His tempos are spot-on, never rushing but always creating an atmosphere that is musical. This allows for this wonderful music to speak for itself. While a couple of the works have been recorded before, mainly the Nisi Dominus with Suzanne Rydén and Nicholas McGegan on Avie and the Salve Regina by the Ensemble Gradiva on Accord back in 2002, this recording sets a new standard. My only desire is that this group begin to explore the huge amount of music of the Neapolitan region; that would be a real service to the world of music. One disc that will appear on my Want List for this year!
Bertil van Boer (source/font: aquí)
Gaudiu i compartiu!
RECICLASSICAT: SCARLATTI, Alessandro (1660-1725)
LAQUINTADEMAHLER: Scarlatti A - Nisi dominus & Salve Regina