Coro Claudio Monteverdi di Crema, La Pifarescha, Bruno Gini
Any major recording of church music by Francesco Cavalli is of interest. In spite of several fine recordings over the past twenty years (including a lovely 1997 account by Seicento and the Parley of Instruments on Hyperion of his Messa Concertata CDA 66970), this key figure in musical history remains under-recorded, and the present performance of music for voices and instruments from two of his major collections makes a valuable contribution. On the positive side, the large vocal and instrumental forces and the opulent acoustic produce a very grand impression, and the episodes for the full forces are extremely impressive. We also have the nowadays obligatory cornetto fireworks. Things are less happy when things thin out and the spotlight falls on solo voices. Here there is some stabbing wildly at notes, and in chant episodes there are signs of nerves as voices don’t quite do what the singers intended. These moments are uncomfortable, but the authority of the massed passages more than makes up for them, as does the interest of hearing such generous helpings of Cavalli’s neglected church music.
D. James Ross