Ghezzi: Salmi a 2 voci, Dialoghi sacri

Cappella Musicale di San Giacomo Maggiore in Bologna, Roberto Cascio
129:44 (2 CDs in a single jewel case)
Tactus TC650790

Each of these two CDs is devoted to a specific publication by Ippolito Ghezzi, an Augustinian Friar active in and around Siena at the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century. His Salmi a 2 Voci are unexceptional Baroque fare, given rather routine performances by these Italian singers – a succession of solo voices seem to a greater or lesser extent a bit ‘slap-dash’ about intonation, and have a range of vibrato which at its broadest can be off-putting. You may be prepared to put up with these shortcomings in pursuit of music by a nowadays practically unknown composer, but (on extended listening) they do get annoying and the virtues of Ghezzi’s music seem to fade. The second CD features Ghezzi’s Dialogi Sagri dating from 1708 almost a decade after the Psalms, and clearly showing how the composer’s skills had developed in the interim. These are more imaginative settings in which the instruments play a more active obbligato role, while the singing is much more polished and secure. It feels to me as if having got this CD ‘in the can’ it was decided to use the forces to also commit the Psalms to CD to make a double album. This discrepancy in standards between to two is marked, due (I fear) to relative lack of preparation but also the inferior standard of the compositions. Perhaps, if we regard the second, longer and better CD as the main item and the first CD as a free bonus it makes the package more palatable. At his best, Ghezzi is an imaginative and technically adept composer, and for his dramatically animated music perhaps texts and translations (not provided) are desirable.

D. James Ross