musica Dei donum

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Salvatore SACCO (1572 - c1622): "Missa 1607"

Templum Musicae; Francesco Di Lernia, organ
Dir: Vincenzo Di Donato

rec: October 2003, Zocca (Modena, I), Convento della Verruchia/Spilimbergo, S. Maria Maggiore
Carus - 83.191 (© 2006) (58'05")

plainchant: Beata es, Virgo Maria (offertorio); Beata viscera (communio); Benedicta et venerabilis est (graduale); Paolo Quagliati (c1555-1628): Canzona II [1]; Toccata dell'Ottavo Tuono [3]; Salvatore Sacco: Dialogus Beatae Mariae Virginis a 8 [2]; Gaudeamus omnes a 8 [2]; Litaniae Lauretanae a 8 [2]; Missa a 8 [2]; Veni sponsa Christi a 8 [2]

Marina De Liso (I), Annamaria Calciolari (II), soprano; Alessandro Carmignani (I), Giuseppe Maletto (II), alto; Alfredo Grandini (I), Paolo Fanciullacci (II), tenor; Salvo Vitale (I), Garrick Comeaux (II), bass; Vincenzo Di Donato, Paolo Fanciullacci, Luigi Pagliarini [plainchant]; Cristiano Contadin, viola da gamba; Nicola Dal Maso, violone; Giangiacomo Pinardi, theorbo; Marina Bonetti, harp; Francesco Di Lernia, organ

(Sources: [1] P Quagliati, Ricercari e Canzoni, 1601; [2] S Sacco, Missa, Motecta, Magnificat et Litaniae BMV ... cum Basso continuato ad Organum per doppio coro di quattro voci ciascuno, 1607; [3] G Diruta, Transilvano, 1609)

If you have never heard of Salvatore Sacco, don't be ashamed: neither have the editors of New Grove. In the programme notes Giulia Veneziano refers to the "rediscovery" of Sacco, so it is not that surprising that he has no entry in this encyclopedia. He was one of many composers born in Southern Italy who went north to study in Naples or Rome.

Sacco was born in 1572 in Cerignola in the province of Foggia in 1572 and became maestro di cappella of the Trinità dei Pellegrini in the papal residence in Ponte Sisto. The next stages of his career can be located in Orte, Tuscania and Rome. Towards the end of his life he returned to his birthplace where he died. The year of his death isn't exactly known, but it was not before 1622.

Just one collection of music has come down to us. "The present recording presents the majority of these works within the framework of a reconstruction of a liturgy for an important Marian feast." The recording begins with the Dialogus Beatae Mariae Virginis, which is followed by the Litaniae Lauretanae. After a toccata by Quagliati Sacco's Gaudeamus omnes is performed: "Let us all rejoice in the Lord on the feast of the Blessed N.N." - here the name of the saint can be inserted, which here is, of course, "Virgin Mary" (Mariae Virginis). Then follows the setting of the Mass: the ordinary is by Sacco, the propers (graduale, offertorio and communio) are sung in plainchant and taken from the Proprium Missae Beatae Mariae Virginis. The booklet doesn't make clear whether a historical source has been used for the plainchant.

Stylistically the music by Sacco is somewhere in the middle between the stile antico and the modern seconda prattica. From the latter Sacco has taken the addition of a basso continuo part, but the connection between text and music is much closer to the former. There are no passages for solo voices, not even in the first item, the Dialogus. The element of dialogue is restricted to an alternation of lower and higher voices for the text of the Gospel and the words of the angel and Mary respectively.

All pieces are written for double choir, showing the connection between Rome and Venice, but it is used in different ways. A clear alternation between the two choirs takes place in the Litaniae Lauretanae when in a number of verses one choir sings, for instance, "Mater purissima", and the other then sings "ora pro nobis". But even here there is no strict pattern: some verses are sung by one choir, some by both. These compositions are fundamentally polyphonic, but homophony is used at some stages to single out some elements of the text.

Paolo Quagliati is an example of a composer moving from the north to the south: he was born in Venice and settled in Rome in 1574. The fact that one of his organ works was included in Diruta's Transilvano shows his reputation. When his Ricercari e Canzoni were published in 1601 he was organist at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.

The ensemble Templum Musicae is one of the many and growing number of Italian ensembles which are devoted to the performance of early music, and which are hardly known outside Italy. It was founded in 1999 and concentrates on music from the southern part of Italy. "The characteristic of the ensemble stems from the conviction that the vocal quality of Italian music, as well as the relationship between the expression of the text and musical phrasing cannot be ignored". That is certainly noticeable here: phrasing, dynamics and the delivery of the text are excellent. The voices - among them well-known names as Alessandro Carmignani and Giuseppe Maletto - blend very well, which is in particular important as all pieces are performed with one voice per part. The instruments give good support without being too prominent. Francesco Di Lernia gives very good interpretations of the organ works on an organ which was rebuilt during the restoration of the cathedral in Spilimbergo following the earthquake of 1976. It is a little unclear to what extent historical material (from the first organ, built in 1515 by Bernardino Vicentino) has been used, but the organ sounds great, and the meantone temperament contributes to the expression of the two organ pieces by Quagliati. There is just one point of criticism regarding these interpretations: the performance of the plainchant is unnaturally slow.

This is a most interesting recording of music from a period in time which is largely neglected. Giulia Veneziano refers to him and others as "the second generation of the Roman school" and mentions the names of Giovanni Mario Nanino, Ruggiero Giovanelli, Arcangelo Crivelli, Teofilo Gargari and Francesco Soriano. Most of these are hardly known, and one can only hope their output will be explored in time. Hopefully their works are as good as these by Sacco and will be performed at the same high standard as Sacco's are here.

Johan van Veen (© 2009)

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