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Lodovico Grossi DA VIADANA (1560 - 1627): Officium defunctorum

Vocale Consortium, Cappella Musicale di Viadana
Dir: Giovanni Battista Columbro

rec: Oct 8 - 10, 2006, Viadana (Mantua), Chiesa di San Martino
Tactus - TC 562201 ( 2008) (63'07")

[VC] Tiziano Cogliati, soprano; Cristiano Fumagalli, alto; Giuseppe Fusari, tenor; Manuel Scalmati, bass; [CPdiV] Paola Manfredini, soprano; Alessandra Vavasori, contralto; Luigi Pagliarini, Franco Arata, tenor; Davide Benetti, bass; Andrea Inghisciano, cornett; Roberta Pregliasco, Cristiano Boschesi, sackbut; Maurizio Cadossi, Jacopo Columbro, violin; Nicola Barbieri, violone; Marco Vincenzi, spinet, organ; Federico Lorenzani, organ

Lodovico Grossi da Viadana is one of those composers whose place in the history is much more important than the number of recordings of his works would suggest. He is generally considered the first to publish sacred music with a part for basso continuo, the Concerti ecclesiastici op. 12 of 1602. This collection has brought him fame, but there are other opuses which also deserve attention. The coexistence of various styles which is a feature of the time around 1600 is reflected in his oeuvre.

Viadana was born as Lodovico Grossi in Viadana, and only added 'da Viadana' to his name when entered the order of the Minor Observants. Between 1594 and 1623 he had the position of maestro di cappella at several cathedrals and convents. Some of his music found wide dissemination, and he also attracted a large number of pupils. He published more than 30 collections of music, mostly with an opus number. The largest part of his oeuvre comprises sacred music, but he also wrote madrigals and instrumental pieces.

In his oeuvre Viadana makes use of almost all techniques of his time. Some pieces are polyphonic, other homophonic, some without instruments, others with a basso seguente and later with a basso continuo. Both prima prattica and seconda prattica are represented in his output, and in addition he sometimes makes use of the technique of cori spezzati. As a result his oeuvre is various and colourful and in many ways he is a key figure in the development of Italian music at the turn of the century.

The present disc presents one of his opus numbers, the Officium ac Missa defunctorum opus 15, which dates from 1604. It is scored for five voices and doesn't contain a part for basso continuo. In this recording instruments are used to play colla voce: one cornett, two sackbuts, two violins, a violone, a spinet and an organ. These are not always used: some passages are only sung, whereas in others the voices are joined by the instruments. This allows the emphasis of certain parts of the text and also creates a dynamic gradation. Moreover, there is a difference in the vocal scoring as well: some episodes are performed with single voices, in others they are joined by ripienists. This reflects the widespread practice of the juxtaposition of favoriti and cappella. All parts of this Officium defunctorum are alternatim, meaning that some parts are sung in plainchant, others in polyphony. The concluding 'Libera me' is not set, and therefore entirely sung in plainchant.

The two ensembles under the direction of Giovanni Battista Columbro give fine performances of this opus. The voices blend well, and the instruments lend colour to the interpretation. The cornett not only plays with the upper voice, it also adds some ornamentation. This shows a kind of imagination which makes these performances even more attractive. The acoustical circumstances are suitable to this repertoire, and the music has been well recorded. The liner-notes could have been more specific about the music, and it is also regrettable that the Latin lyrics have not been translated in English. But that shouldn't hold anyone back from investigating in this specimen of De Viadana's oeuvre which deserves to be wider explored.

Johan van Veen ( 2011)

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