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Recording

Dowland: Lessons

Jonas Nordberg lute
72:14
BIS-2627 | SACD

From the first few notes of this CD it is clear that Jonas Nordberg sets out to put his own gloss on well-known music by John Dowland (1563-1626). He begins with Dowland’s Prelude, playing at quite a slow speed, taking liberties with the rhythm, adding a few more ornaments than were in the unique source (Margaret Board’s lute book), and exaggerating the briskness of repeated high notes towards the end. There follows A Fancy (Poulton 73) which opens with a theme similar to “All in a Garden Green”, and develops many contrasting musical ideas – little four-note rising scales overlapping each other, the introduction of a new theme which shares the first four notes of the opening theme, more rising scales but with a quaver followed by six semiquavers, a lengthy tremolo passage, and rounding off with Dowland’s characteristic alternation of tonic and dominant chords before the final grand 6-note chord. Nordberg wisely does not add a chord at the end of bar 19 as suggested by Diana Poulton, since this would interfere with the theme reiterated in the bass.

For The Frog Galliard Nordberg creates a gentle mood, perhaps thinking of the words “Now oh now I needs must part”. However, those words, supposedly for the Duc d’Alençon leaving Queen Elizabeth after a failed courtship, were probably loaded with sarcasm, and a happier mood might have been more appropriate. Who is to say? One thing I do like about Nordberg’s performance of this piece is his ornaments of which there are many. Some match Poulton’s edition, no. 23a, others are his own, but they are all most convincing. It is Nordberg’s use of ornaments and imaginative little touches of his own, which bring Dowland’s music to life.

A good example of Nordberg’s little touches comes at the end of Lady Hunsdon’s Puffe. There is a rising scale in parallel tenths, where each note of the treble is followed by a note a third higher before moving on to the next tenth; this means that the treble has a succession of rising thirds in quavers. On the repeat Nordberg introduces a fast passing note between each of these thirds – such a simple idea, but a pleasant surprise which put a smile across my face.

The title of the CD is Lessons, meaning pieces to be learned. Nordberg gives a good account of five pieces from Robert Dowland’s Varietie of Lute-lessons (1610): Galliards for Queen Elizabeth, the King of Denmark, and the Earl of Derby, John Smith’s Almain, and Fantasie (Poulton 1a).

An important aspect of English music at this time, whether for lute, virginals or other instruments, was the writing of variations on simple folk melodies. Dowland’s variations on “Loth to depart” are a fine example of this, with a wealth of musical ideas displaying the expressive capabilities of the lute. In contrast is Dowland’s simple setting of Orlando Sleepeth, which is a short piece with no ornaments or decorated repeats. Nordberg plays it through with some decoration of his own, and then again with more embellishment.

For Solus cum Sola Diana Poulton used the setting in the Ewing lute book, but Nordberg instead turns to the setting in Cambridge University Library, Dd.2.11. The last strain appears only once in the manuscript, so Nordberg repeats it with his own tasteful additions. In another pavan, Semper Dowland Semper Dolens, Nordberg creates a suitable melancholic mood, but I am puzzled by the penultimate chord of the second strain. The Ewing lute book has d’ and b, and the Weld lute book has f’ and d’. Either is fine, but Nordberg plays f’ and b creating a diminished fifth, which cannot be right.

Nordberg plays a nine-course lute strung in gut, with a string-length of 65 cm tuned to g’ at A=392. It was built by Lars Jönssen. In modern times it has been common to tune lutes to g’ at modern pitch (A=440), which requires a smallish lute with a string-length of 60 cm, and which can sound a bit tinkly. Nordberg’s larger lute is effectively tuned a tone lower, giving a richer, warmer sound, which is ideal for Dowland’s lute solos.

The number seven and multiples of seven seem to have been important for Dowland. There are 21 songs in three of his four printed collections of songs (The Second Booke has 22), 21 instrumental pieces in Lachrimae [1604] of which the first seven pavans are seven different Lachrimaes, and 42 lute solos in Varietie of which there are seven of each of the six genres represented. His setting of “Loth to depart” consists of seven variations. Significantly Robert  Nordberg’s CD has 21 tracks.

Stewart McCoy

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Festival-conference

Ambronay 2022

Regular visitor, Brian Robins, has sent THIS REPORT from the French festival (the link opens a six-page PDF file).

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Recording

Telemann: Fantasias for solo violin

Alina Ibragimova
65:56
hyperion CDA 68384

Above and beyond his regular duties as a vast provider of music for all occasions, Telemann also catered for the growing amateur and domestic demands for appropriately crafted “training aids” in both sung and instrumental areas within his “Selbstverlag” (self-publishing house). Excluding the Frankfurt publications, the Hamburg activities took off with the Harmonische Gottesdienst 1725-6, a full year’s worth of chamber cantatas for church or domestic use, or indeed training aids! The provision of music to all was a keen aim which was fulfilled across the board. It was during the period of 1732-1735 that we find the four sets of Fantasias: Flute, Harpsichord (Three Dozen) Violin and Gamba, each side of the highly successful Musique de Table publication in 1733… and the Sing- Spiel- und General-Bass Übungen 1733-4. The latter set good “training aids” to improve performance and proficiency.

All of these attributes are found in the Fantasias; within those for solo violin we find a clever combination of older framed pieces and more forward-looking galant textures, mixed with some rusticity. Neat, trick polyphonic devices and echos, suggesting a duo-effect to one’s ear. Not everyone pulls this off as they transit the various modes and styles. It is all a question of phrasing and correct articulation of the implied flow of musical ideas. As I stated in a previous review of these same works (Thomas Cotik) each violinist brings their own stamp to these pieces. Alina Ibragimova brings her style to bear within the six retro-looking and six more galant pieces on what may be an Amati violin which has both a deep sonority and crystalline top register.

The total timing gives a slight guide to tempi used; Ibragmiva’s 65:56 is slower than the benchmark Fabio Biondi at 62:30, but faster than Andrew Manze at 70:44, and Rachel Podger at 75:20. Strangely, I wasn’t won over by the opening phrase nor the (over-)use of diminuendo, which to me clashed with some overemphatic gestures. Some of the subtle faux-duo lines were lost in a straightforward chain of notes, which were most dextrous in delivery yet lost some improvisatory magic. The F-minor work seemed to slip from a normally melancholic feel to rather mournful, while the D-major had a much freer flow and familiar exposition of some galant-styled tones. Here it must be said the CD booklet notes by Joseph Fort are pertinent and informative, aiding the listener’s transit.

Comparing this version to a whole “string” of violinists tackling these works (pun intended!), I  would probably opt for the CRD Maya Magub or the recent Orchid Classics with Iryna Gintova, yet everyone ought to have the Biondi (Glossa), possibly the Dubeau (Analekta, on modern violin), most probably have either the Manze or Podger, or maybe the Cotik (Centaur, also modern violin) for his brash and showy yet cogent version. Many others will bring their stamp and phrasing in these engaging works with stylistic signposts and faux-double violin effects, plus typical Telemann rustic elements… in short, the violin fantasias are a neatly crafted assemblage to tease player and listener!

David Bellinger

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Recording

The Poor Branch

Nineteenth-century guitar music by Ivan Klinger (1818-97)
James Akers guitar
64:18
resonus RES10302

Ivan Andreevich Klinger (1818-1897) was born in Kherson, Ukraine. His guitar music is little known today, although much of it is available online at IMSLP. Unlike so many of his contemporaries from his part of the world, Klinger wrote for the six-string classical guitar, or Spanish guitar, rather than the Russian seven-string guitar with its characteristic open G tuning of DGBdgbd’. Klinger’s music is very easy on the ears – charming melodies decorated with occasional chromatic inflections and virtuosic interjections – arpeggios, harmonics, changes of tempo, glissandos, but always lyrical, and exploiting the full range of the instrument. Klinger’s compositional skill and James Akers’ sensitive interpretation combine to produce a premiere recording which has been a pleasure to review. The CD is enhanced by excellent liner notes from Oleg Timofeyev, who puts the pieces in context, and provides a wealth of interesting information about them.

Fantasy no. 2, is an attractive piece with considerable variety. An Introduction opens with two phrases, each consisting of five plucked chords, a flourish of single notes, and harmonics; there follows a short passage of arpeggios marked diminuendo, followed by a tremolo marked accelerando. The mood is set for three folk song melodies: “In the garden”, “I love Peter”, and “A birch tree stood in the field”. Each melody is played with variations, including an extraordinary and very effective imitation of the balalaika: the note b is held at the 4th fret of the 3rd string acting as a drone, occasionally dipping down to a# for a first inversion of the dominant; the melody is sustained on the first string; and the second string fills out the harmony, often duplicating in unison the b of the third string; all chords are strummed, but only involving the first three strings of the guitar, creating second inversions of E minor. This is just like the balalaika, which has three strings, is strummed with the fingers, and typically involves unisons and unavoidable inversions of chords.

So much of Klinger’s music is cheerful, but a change of mood comes with “Elegie par Henri Vogel”, which begins with a sad melody sustained by gloomy repeated chords low down in the bass. In his liner notes Oleg Timofeyev explains that the music was originally a composition by Henri Vogel (1845-1900) for viola and piano, and he describes what Klinger has done to adapt it for solo guitar.

The title of the CD, “The Poor Branch”, comes from the title of a song composed by Nikolai Titov (1800-75), which Klinger arranged for solo guitar adding his own variations. It is heard as the penultimate track of the CD. One can easily imagine Klinger captivating 19th-century salon audiences in Ukraine and thereabouts with his playing, and hopefully James Akers will succeed in introducing Klinger’s music to a wider audience today.

Stewart McCoy

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Recording

Mozart: Piano Concerto no. 23, Symphony no. 40

Andreas Staier fortepiano, Le Concert de la Loge, Julien Chauvin violin & director
56:59
Alpha 875

Named in part – they had to drop ‘Olympique’ after protests from the French Olympic association – after the Parisian concert organisation that commissioned a set of symphonies from Haydn, Le Concert de la Loge was founded by the violinist Julien Chauvin in 2015. Today it is firmly established as one of the many outstanding period instrument orchestras in France, having gained a particular reputation (at least on record) in Classical repertoire.  For the present CD, they have joined forces with the distinguished forte-pianist Andreas Staier, who plays one of Mozart’s best-loved concertos on a very fine copy of a Walter instrument of c.1790 built by Christoph Kern of Staufen. Those coming across the disc may be surprised to find that the G-minor Symphony has acquired an unlikely nickname – ‘Le Dodécaphonique’. Apparently, it was chosen by the musicians of Le Concert following a contest among their concert audience, though not I suspect without the prompting of Chauvin, who in his note draws attention to the start of the development of the opening movement and its use all the notes of the chromatic scale, with the exception of G natural. Perhaps he might with better purpose have noted Mozart’s extraordinary use of chromaticism throughout the symphony; it is responsible for engendering much of the work’s tragic drama and is a prime feature that distinguishes it from many another turbulent G-minor symphony, including Mozart’s own earlier example, K 183.

Leading from the first violin desk, Chauvin’s way with Mozart is quickly established with the Don Giovanni Overture that opens the CD. His tempos tend to be on the brisk side, leading to a danger of brusqueness not always avoided. On the credit side, however, there is an inherent sense of drama, which is aided by splendid balance between strings and the exceptionally accomplished wind, and a keen ear for detail. The strings are not always a match for the wind and there is a trace of sourness in the Overture. One movement where greater forward momentum certainly does pay dividends is in the central Adagio of the A-major Piano Concerto, which without losing the depth of feeling the music conveys – some of the most profound even Mozart ever wrote – better conveys its siciliana rhythm and avoids the trap of sentimentality into which it sometimes falls. For the most part, this movement is also exquisitely decorated, as it must be if it is to be expanded from its skeletal state. It is to Staier’s credit that he mostly avoids the temptation to rewrite rather than ornament the melodic line, and only near the conclusion (from bar 88) do I feel he slightly over-eggs the pudding. Otherwise, Staier’s performance is marked by the nimble and precise finger-work that is a hallmark of his playing, with judicious touches of rubato underlining just how fine a musician he is.

The G-minor Symphony is given in the second version with clarinets, as is usual. Unlike the overture and concerto it was not recorded in the Arsenal de Metz – Cite Musicale but in the Notre-Dame de Liban church in Paris with a warmer, more generous acoustic  (and a substantially differently constituted orchestra). It’s a fine performance – fine enough indeed to have wished that Chauvin had taken the second-half repeat of the finale, again illustrative of Mozart’s astonishing contrapuntal chromatic mastery, though a steadier tempo might have been more effective here. But all-in-all these are challenging and rewarding performances of familiar masterpieces that make the listener prick up his ears anew, not always a foregone conclusion.

Brian Robins

Categories
Recording

Tudor Music Afterlives

Ensemble Pro Victoria, conducted by Toby Ward, Magnus Williamson, organ. Toby Carr, lute
69:27
Delphian DCD34295

This is Ensemble Pro Victoria’s successor to their rewarding recording of music celebrating the quincentenary of Fayrfax, which I reviewed. And a very successful successor this album is too. The premise on which it is based might seem a tad academic, but it produces a fascinatingly varied yet coherent programme of music, containing some staggeringly fine pieces, excellently performed.

All these pieces are caught in their afterlife, and are presumed or known to have had a prior existence. There are several strands to this programme: “extreme” reconstructions of some of Sheppard’s many fragmentary psalm settings; reconstructions of sections of longer motets that survive only as solo songs with lute accompaniments; a reconstruction of a partsong by Robert Parsons – the stunningly beautiful When I look back – from isolated partbooks and a lute intabulation; Continental motets and chansons that have made their way over to England; excerpts from Ludford’s Lady Masses; two motets with only Elizabethan attributions to Taverner, who died over a dozen years before she ascended the English throne; and a famous work by Tallis – successively a fantasia, O sacrum convivium and finally (among other contrafacta) I call and cry – that seemingly began life as an instrumental work for a consort of viols, with an afterlife serving both the Roman and English Churches.

Musically the most interesting works are the two attributed to Taverner and the motet by Clement. It is unlikely that anyone listening to a “blind tasting” of Quemadmodum would guess that it is by Taverner; indeed, of its five surviving sources, two are anonymous, one ascribes it to Tye, and the other two to Taverner. All these sources are Elizabethan, and none provide any text beyond the initial word. The text of Psalm XLI can be fitted to the notes, so it is reasonable to conclude that it was composed as a motet but was performed instrumentally during its Elizabethan afterlife. What is beyond dispute is that it is one of the most strikingly beautiful works from the Tudor period. In the same class is O splendor gloriae which has Elizabethan ascriptions both to Taverner alone and jointly – respectively the first and second sections – to him and Tye (that man again!). It seems credible that the latter is accurate: either a work on which the two composers agreed to collaborate, or one that Taverner left unfinished and Tye completed; it is even possible that two independent compositions were at some point yoked together, as for instance seems to be the case with the two parts of Byrd’s anthem Arise O Lord/Help us O God albeit they are by the same composer. Clement’s Job tonso capite simply illustrates why he is among the finest composers of his own and of all time.

Musicologically the most interesting works are the five settings by Sheppard of Sternhold and Hopkins’ metrical psalms. These will be published in the forthcoming volume of Sheppard’s complete vernacular music in Early English Church Music, edited by Stefan Scot. Except in one case, only the upper voice of the original four survives for each of these 48 pieces, but the “extreme reconstruction” by Magnus Williamson mentioned above has produced five credible pieces of music for this disc. Given the constraints of a CD booklet it is good that Magnus has been able to summarise the process of reconstruction for each individual psalm. Meanwhile in the Mulliner Book there is an arrangement for keyboard of Sheppard’s setting of Psalm I, The Man is Blest, which, in the words of Stefan Scot, “permits a reconstruction and indicates something of the style of the remaining choral psalms.” Academia Musica Choir, conducted by Aryan O. Arji, recorded all of Sheppard’s Collected Vernacular Works on two discs (Priory PRCD 1081 and 1108, 2013 and 2015) and The Man is Blest is the first track on volume II. Mulliner’s arrangement is played on the organ by Michael Blake (who is scandalously uncredited!) on volume I, track 8.

The two Kyrie movements from different Lady Masses for three voices by Ludford perhaps fall within the category of worthy, albeit pleasantly so, and are enhanced by verses played on the organ by Magnus Williamson employing authentic methods of improvisation on given melodies called “squares”, but the third such movement, Alleluia. Veni electa mea, is, in modern colloquial parlance, an absolute belter, for all its brevity. Like the motet by Clement mentioned above, it illustrates why Ludford takes his seat at the same table as Clement himself, beside Sheppard, Lassus, Taverner, Tye and Tallis, to name only composers present on this disc.

Ensemble Pro Victoria sing all this varied music consistently well, be it plainsong or the augmented forces assembled for O splendor gloriae. I was concerned that the full-throated sound exhibited in some tracks on their disc of Fayrfax might be reproduced here and overwhelm the more understated material. This proves not to be the case. The performances and interpretations, whether assertive, neutral or restrained, are appropriate to each item. Toby Carr’s occasional contributions on the lute with the singers provide both variety of texture and authenticity. The organ played by Magnus Williamson, mentioned above, was built by Goetze and Gwynn in 2002 for the Early English Organ Project, and embodies evidence from fragments of pre-Reformation organs discovered in Suffolk. This combination of cutting-edge scholarship and outstanding performance gives us a recording of the highest quality, apt for edification and pleasure.

Richard Turbet

Categories
Recording

Kuhnau: Complete Sacred Works VIII

Opella Musica, camerata lipsiensis, Gregor Meyer
71:20
cpo 555 460-2

Although the title announces that this is Vol VIII of the Complete Sacred works, this final volume in the eight-CD set of all Kuhnau’s surviving vocal music is entitled ‘Complete Vocal Works Vol. 8’. The last volume I saw was 5, which I reviewed in Feb of 2020, since then Vol. 6 appeared in 2021 and Vol. 7 must have come in since. By contrast with all the earlier CDs, the contents of this final one are largely secular.

Christian Weise, the head of the Gymnasium at Zittau, was Kuhnau’s teacher and mentor, and Weise elaborated the potentially dramatic stories of the entwined relationships between the patriarchal families in the chapters of Genesis as school plays, providing a part for every student. As a 22-year old, Kuhnau was holding the musical fort in Zittau, and his music for this play Von Jacobs doppelter Heyrath (Zittau, 1682) survives in Weise’s collected works.

They are insertions not unlike Purcell’s The Fairy Queen and King Arthur. As well as these dramatic settings, there is a setting of Psalm 3 (which Purcell set likewise as Jehova, quam multi sunt hostes), Ende gut und alles gut – an extended setting of a Neumeister text for soprano, bass, violin and continuo, a group of three arias, perhaps for an outside celebration, and a Latin chamber cantata for two sopranos and bass with two violins and continuo in a rather Italianate style. These forays into a consciously more secular style are less interesting to me than the cantatas, whose influence on the style and performance of Bach’s cantatas is significant. But it is good that they are included in the project.

The performances remain immaculate both in conception and execution. Meyer has worked with essentially the same musicians over this past eight years, and David Erler, the group’s alto, is indeed preparing the material for publication by Breitkopf. In an interview in the liner notes, he comments on the richness and diversity of the instrumental accompaniments, noting horns, oboes and a transverse flute, virtuoso writing for trombone, and a surprise scoring including schalmei, trombone, a harp and an echo chorus.

The net result is a homogenous blend, where single strings and single voices with a rich variety of wind are backed by the splendid Silbermann organ in Rötha, together with harp and lute in the continuo group. The clarity of the sound is wonderful: every word is clearly projected. In the secular pieces, the style is perhaps more ‘theatrical’ than in the cantatas, but that is hardly surprising and the rather lightweight text does need some boost.

This great undertaking will, I hope, remain the benchmark for all performances of Kuhnau in the future. The complementary style of singing and playing is a model, and anyone interested in learning about the background to performing Bach cantatas needs to listen carefully to both Kuhnau’s compositional techniques as well as the performance style of this excellent project, led by Gregor Meyer.

David Stancliffe

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Recording

Pachelbel: Organ Works volume 2

Matthew Owens
76:20
resonus RES10303

When I reviewed Vol. 1 of Matthew Owens’ excellent Pachelbel Organ Works a year ago, I wondered whether all the subsequent discs were to be recorded on the Queen’s College Frobenius, where he had been organ scholar, pondering that Pachelbel’s diverse compositions might be better served by a richer, more South German tone. And here is Vol. 2, as rich a mix as Vol. 1, and recorded on the colourful 2015 Bernard Aubertin organ in a private house in East Sussex last November! This is the organ that Stephen Farr used for the Resonus recording of Bach’s early Chorale Partitas, and here they make an equally good technical job of capturing both the carefully voiced organ and Owens’ neat articulation and phrasing.

Every track has its registration noted carefully in the liner notes, to be read against the specification of the instrument on the page opposite, which is a great delight to this reviewer at least. The Aubertin organ (Aubertin trained in Alsace and works in the Jura, and his organs have a blend of French and lower German/Austrian quality to their voicing) in Fairwarp has that rich and colourful quality that suits the middle-south German style of writing so well. Some of the shorter numbers, like the variations on the Chorale Partita Christus, der ist mein Leben, are played on single ranks: one on a 4’ flute only and we also hear the robust Voix Humaine paired with the 4’ flute on the Grand Orgue. The 22 Fugues on the Magnificat Primi Toni also give us a chance to experience the wonderful variety and subtle phrasing of this delicately voiced instrument – where flute and principal ranks can be combined together to shade the tone – as well as alerting us to the fact that Pachelbel worked in both Lutheran and Catholic traditions.

Owens’ playing is elegant, fluent and well articulated. There is a lot of Pachelbel to come – the last complete Pachelbel organ works, recorded two decades ago by Antoine Bouchard on a 1964 Casavant organ in Quebec, ran to 11 CDs – but the series promises well. I look forward to the next volume keenly: what organ will Owens choose for the next tranche?

David Stancliffe

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Recording

Telemann: Recorder Sonatas

Dan Laurin, Anna Paradiso, Mats Olofsson
70:20
BIS 2555 SACD

At a cursory glance, these works seem like more “Coals to Newcastle” for the cognoscenti! Many have been covered by some of the early pioneers of Baroque recorder, notably Frans Brüggen way back on his noteworthy Teldec series (with LP extractions!); indeed, this very selection of works almost echoes that much older CD found on dusty library shelves. More recently, the exact works appeared on Erik Bosgraaf’s very fine Brilliant Classics disc (95247). They do almost feel like musical “stepping stones” before touching upon the fuller concerti for this instrument by this composer and others. It is a modest surprise that tsuch a seasoned player as Dan Laurin tackles these fairly deep into his highly reputable career, and this he does with his customary musicianship. Some can make these works sound rather perfunctory, uninspired, lacklustre. Here we have the perfect understanding of the phrasing and dynamics that pushes the melodic line along just enough without becoming an outrageously keen machine-gun or conversely, a flat, exsanguinated dud. The booklet notes alone are enlightening in many respects, showing Laurin to be an intelligent and thoughtful musician. He has fully grasped the musico-linguistic side to Telemann, which responds to, and uses rhetorical devices. The two sonatinas with their basslines restored offer an introspective and perfect vehicle for the splendid trio of musicians here. The basso continuo unit is bright, fluid and responsive, complementing not smothering the recorder. The neat journey through these works, again thoughtfully arranged with the two C-major pieces to open and finish. Both the F-minor pieces are fairly well known, especially TWV 41:f1 with its recognizable Triste first movement (even bassoonists have lifted this piece!) To round-up, if you don’t already have a full set of Der getreue Music-Meister (1728-9) or the full Essercizii Musici (1739-40), or the Brilliant Classics recording mentioned above, then this balanced, elegant recording offers a selection of these almost “rites of passage” works, before embarking on the more expansive recorder repertoire! The recorded sound is gently engaging, fluid and elegant without over- or under-stressing, displaying the finer sides of these intimate pieces.

David Bellinger

Categories
Recording

Grandi: Lætatus sum – Vesper Psalms

Accademia d’Arcadia, UtFaSol Ensemble, Alessandra Rossi Lürig
73:26
Arcana A525

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!

Brian Clark