Soler: Obra vocal en latín

La Grande Chapelle, Albert Recasens
Lauda LAU018

This CD came as a real surprise to me. I had been familiar with the fine harpsichord music of the Catalan Padre Soler, which includes some flamboyant Fandangos and other distinctly Iberian dances. I should have guessed that he would also have written church music, but could hardly have anticipated the sort of music recorded here. Squarely-phrased and pre-classical in style, with full orchestral accompaniments including string orchestra, oboes, horns and flutes, and sections for solo voices alternating with episodes for full choir. Once I had got over my surprise, it gradually became apparent that this music was actually rather dull and predictable – somewhere between Vivaldi and early Haydn in style and lacking all the flair and élan of his keyboard music. La Grande Chapelle perform it very expressively, in a generous acoustic and with plenty of drama and musicality, so I’m afraid the shortcomings are all to be laid at the door of Padre Soler. The more I listened to the CD, the more the music sounded like painting by numbers, stock phrases stuck together with other stock phrases – the result is pleasant and blandly harmless but never profound or individual. This is the classic case of a CD which receives four sets of five stars for performance, recorded sound, booklet note and overall presentation but is sadly just dull.

D. James Ross

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