I have to confess that I approached this recording with some doubts; the Cantigas de Santa Maria are all songs, over 400 of them, and here is a purely instrumental version with no singing! Of course, Savall and a number of others have recorded many of the Cantigas in both sung and instrumental versions
Like his counterpart in Scotland Thomas Wode, John Baldwin is among a handful of musicians whom we have to thank for the preservation of the treasury of sixteenth-century choral music. Baldwin was particularly diligent, recording almost 170 works from early in the century right up to his own lifetime in the last quarter of the 1500s, many of which survive as unique copies.
Kuijken’s Weihnachtsoratorium is a treat: it’s clear as a bell, with every note of every line audible, and the tuning very precise. As you would expect from La Petite Bande, it’s all one-to-a-part, except for doubling the upper strings, so the balance of voices, strings, wind and brass is as it is, and the liner notes say that this hasn’t been messed around with by the recording engineers
The three works here (all in world modern premiere recordings) come from the cycle that Telemann published for 1748–49, the so-called “Engel-Jahrgang” to texts by Erdmann Neumeister, all following a five-movement pattern: chorus, aria, recitative, aria and chorale.
A new composer for me, Bonaventura Rubino (1600-1668) was master of music at Palermo Cathedral from 1645 until his death. His Messa di Morti a 5 concertata was published as part of his Opera Quarta in Palermo in 1653.
This late 17th-century oratorio has both text and music by the little-known Giovanni Maria Casini, a Florentine who had gained favour at the court of Cosimo III and Ferdinando Medici, where he came into contact with Alessandro Scarlatti. The present recording has five solo singers and a choir for those movements called “coro”
This music is truly delightful – it’s easy to see why the Sun King made Delalande such a prominent figure in the musical life of his court.