Accademia d’Arcadia, UtFaSol Ensemble, Alessandra Rossi Lürig
If you have heard any music by Alessandro Grandi at all, it was most likely a motet for one or two voices, maybe even with a pair of violins playing ritornelli between the vocal sections, with everyone coming together only for the last few bars. This recording will come as something of a shock – although he was very much the master of the musical miniature, Grandi (who had sung as a teenager in Gabrieli’s choir at St Mark’s in Venice) was perfectly capable of deploying larger forces to splendid effect. The present recording, which benefits from full-blooded singing (with the dexterity to handle the sometimes intricate ornamentation), fabulously articulated playing, and a not-too-rich-but-ample acoustic, takes music from three publications of 1629 and 1630 that reveal just what a loss to posterity the composer’s death from plague in that latter year was. Printed in Venice, the music was almost certainly conceived for his own ensemble at Bergamo’s Santa Maria Maggiore which he had built up since his arrival there in 1627. Rodolfo Boroncini’s excellent booklet essay puts it all into its historical context. Years after we have had multiple recordings of Monteverdi’s large-scale church music – as well as Rovetta’s and Rigatti’s – finally, Grandi’s time has come and I doubt he could have found more passionate advocates than the present performers. What a beautiful CD – one I shall treasure for a long time!