Colonna: L’Assalone: oratorio per 5 voci

Laura Antonaz Assalone, Elena Biscuola Achitofele/Joabbe, Alberto Allegrezza Consigliere, Mauro Borgioni Davide, Elena Bertuzzi Testo, Ensemble “Les Nations”, Maria Luisa Baldassari
63:34
Tactus TC 630302

Assalone was one of no fewer than four oratorios which were performed at the Modena court of Francesco II d’Este in 1684 – Colonna’s setting of the story of Judith was among the others. Francesco Lora (who edited the music) writes an illuminating note, not only on the work in question but also about the political importance of oratorio performances in Modena. Five singers take the six roles (Lora seeing no problem with the alto taking two such unrelated roles), and combine in the three short choruses. They are stylishly accompanied by a one-to-a-part band including solo trumpet, but no pluckers. Most of the singing is good, though I found some of the ornamentation in the repeated verses a little artificial for my liking (as if someone has sat down and composed them, and utterly obscured the original in the process). The playing, on the other hand, is impeccable – the duetting violinists are a perfect match, and the trumpet adds lustre to the texture. To have been written about so much, Colonna’s music must have been good – it is a pity we get so few opportunities to hear it!

Brian Clark

Just two minor quibbles with the notes – as far as I know, durchkomponiert is not yet an English word; the correct translation is “through composed”, and the Italian Testo character would not be referred to as “Text”, but rather as “the narrator”…