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"Salve Regina Del Signor Monteverde - Newly discovered pieces by Monteverdi and Frescobaldi"

Il Pegaso
Dir: Maurizio Croci

rec: Feb 21 - 23, 2012, Bern, Dreifaltigkeitsbasilika
Brilliant Classics - 94286 (© 2012) (54'37")
Liner-notes: E; no lyrics
Cover & track-list

anon: Romanesca; Bellerofonte CASTALDI (c1581-1649): Capriccetto Galante [3]; Girolamo FRESCOBALDI (1583-1643): Aria detta La Frescobalda [1]; Aria detta La Frescobalda [7]; Balletto [1]; Balletto [7]; Corrente [1]; Monicha [1]; Partite sopra Passacagli [7]; Recercar II [4]; 2 Toccatas [1]; Toccata avanti la Romanesca [1]; Toccata con il contrabbasso ovvero pedale [2]; Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643) Laudate Dominum in sanctis eius (SV 287) [8]; Laudate Dominum omnes gentes (SV 197) [9] Regina Caeli a 3; Salve O Regina (SV 326) [5]; Salve Regina (SV 327) [6]; Salve Regina a 2 (SV 284) [8]; Salve Regina a 3; Salve Regina a 3

Sources: [1] ms Paris; [2] ms Turin; [3] Bellerofonte Castaldi, Capricci a 2 stromenti cioè tiorba e tiorbino e per sonar solo varie sorti di balli e fantasticarie, 1622; [4] Girolamo Frescobaldi, Ricercari et canzoni francesi, 1615; [5] Lorenzo Calvi, ed, Seconda raccolta de' sacri canti, 1624; [6] Leonardo Simonetti, ed, Ghirlanda Sacra, 1625; [7] Girolamo Frescobaldi, Il secondo libro di toccate, 1627; Claudio Monteverdi, [8] Selva morale e spirituale, 1640/41; [9] Messa et salmi concertati, e parte da cappella, & con le Letanie della B.V., 1650

Mirko Guadagnini, Makoto Sakurada, tenor; Christian Immler, bass; Evangelina Mascardi, theorbo; Maurizio Croci, organ

Now and then 'new' pieces by famous composers are discovered. Often these compositions are not really new. Their existence was known, but for a long time the authorship couldn't be established. In recent years we have seen a Gloria being attributed to Handel and a Dixit Dominus which was falsely attributed to Galuppi now being recognized as a Vivaldi work. Three sacred concertos by Monteverdi on this disc were also known, but only recently they were identified as being written by Monteverdi. They were first recorded by Odhecaton.

These are combined here with music from a recently discovered manuscript of keyboard music by Frescobaldi which is preserved in the Bibliothèque National in Paris. The liner-notes hardly give any information about this. One may gather from the sparse information, though, that these pieces aren't completely new either. They are rather early versions of pieces which are known from Frescobaldi's published collections or from other manuscripts. The Paris autograph is described as "resembling a notebook" which, in Luigi Collarile's words in his liner-notes, "reveals Frescobaldi at work".

The programme is extended with pieces by both composers from established sources. Those include the collection Selva morale e spirituale by Monteverdi, printed in 1640/41, and the second book of Toccatas from 1627 by Frescobaldi. The two newly-discovered settings of the Salve Regina by Monteverdi are sung by two tenors and bass, as they were in the Odhecaton recording. The latter performed the Regina caeli with two sopranos and alto, whereas here they are also sung by male voices. I don't know what exactly the scoring in the manuscript is, but it was quite common to leave it to the performers to choose the voices. That also means that the indications in the track-list of this disc should be taken with a grain of salt. The sacred concerto Laudate Dominum from the 1640/41 collection is given as scored for tenor and basso continuo, but in fact it is simply for a high voice, and that means that it can be sung by either a soprano or a tenor. In the case of pieces with basso continuo alone a performance by other voice types is also a possibility as transposing such pieces was common practice.

Some of the keyboard pieces are performed by Evangelina Mascardi at the theorbo. That is a legitimate option as in the first half of the 17th century the repertoire for keyboard, plucked instruments and harp overlap. It is less plausible if one wants to show Frescobaldi at work. The sharing of the musical material between organ and theorbo, as in the Balletto from the Paris manuscript [track 12], is even less plausible.

The performance of the keyboard pieces is fine. One may regret that Maurizio Croci uses a modern organ, although built in baroque style, but it is a nice instrument with the disposition this repertoire requires. I had less problems with the acoustic than in Croci's recording of Frescobaldi's Fiori Musicali.

The performances of the singers are pretty good, although I have some reservations. This kind of repertoire needs a truly declamatory performance, and here the singers fall a bit short in that department. More serious is the sparse ornamentation. Too often whole lines are sung without any ornaments. If ornaments are sung they are not always technically perfect, in particular the trillo, for instance in two settings of Salve (O) Regina [tracks 5 and 11].

The booklet is short on information about the music and its sources. It includes the disposition of the organ and the stops used in the various pieces. There is no information about which tenor sings the solo pieces, though. I assume Mirko Guadagnini sings Salve Regina [track 5] and Laudate Dominum and Makoto Sakurada Salve O Regina. The booklet also omits the lyrics, but these can easily be found at the internet. Even so, they should have been included.

To sum up: an interesting disc because of the little-known music, in performances which are partly less than ideal.

Johan van Veen (© 2012)

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