Marcello: Estro Poetico-armonico (salmi) and Sonata a tré

Caroline Pelon soprano, Mélodie Ruvio alto, L’amoroso, Guido Balestracci
75:22
Arcana A441

This CD of psalm settings by Benedetto Marcello opens with a charming Sonata a tré for gamba, cello and continuo. This elegantly understated music prepares the ground perfectly for the psalms, two for solo soprano, one for alto with a pair of obbligato gambas, and one for soprano and alto duet. Intriguingly Marcello quotes Hebrew chants in these settings, although it seems rather eccentric for the present performers to have monodist Antonio Magarelli sing the relevant chants in the middle of Marcello’s settings. Marcello has a wonderful sense of melody and writes beautifully for voices and instruments alike, and the present soloists, soprano Caroline Pelon and contralto Mélodie Ruvio, sing with an effective lyricism and musicality. More famous as an instrumental composer, it is interesting to see that Marcello is just as capable in his compositions for voices, introducing the same effective blend of strong melodic ideas and inventive harmonic and textural concepts. The setting for alto and violette, interpreted here as meaning gambas, is particularly striking with some unusual deployment of the obbligato instruments (track 17).

D. James Ross