Alessandro Grandi: Celesti Fiori – Motetti

Academia d’Arcadia, UtFaSol Ensemble, Alessandra Rossi Lürig
Arcana A 464

During his lifetime, the Venetian Alessandro Grandi was regarded as the equal of Monteverdi and his influence on the motet was profound. The works recorded here illustrate the dramatic concertato style in which he composed and indicate an original creative genius at work. Blending voices and continuo with cornetti and sackbuts, these performances illustrate how he animates the texts he is setting with rapidly changing bursts of expressive musical ideas, but is also capable of more sustained expressions of passion. The singing and playing here is generally suitably passionate too, with very effective detailed ornamentation subtly applied where appropriate. I have some reservations about the soprano voices which both have more vibrato than is comfortable. Annoyingly they seem able to minimise this at will, but too often they don’t, leaving them sounding unsettlingly wobbly compared to the cornetti and, indeed, the gentlemen. The 15 motets recorded here range from simple two-voice dialogues to larger-scale pieces culminating in a handsome eight-part setting of Nisi Dominus. The recorded sound is best in the smaller-scale works and is a bit crowded in the larger pieces, where surely more use could have been made of the acoustic in the Basilica Palatina di Santa Barbara in Mantua. This CD with Alessandra Rossi Lürig’s detailed and informative programme notes makes a strong case for exploring further Grandi’s sacred music, which has survived in large quantities but of which only a small portion has made it into modern editions. [Ed. Dennis Collins’ fine editions are available from primalamusica and he is one of several editors working on a complete edition for CMM.]

D. James Ross

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