Austerely agonized, excruciatingly ecstatic, and vocally virtuosic, this disc joining Alessandro Scarlatti's Dixit Dominus and Magnificat with five secular madrigals incarnates the notion of mannerism in music. Though self-consciously conservative, Scarlatti's music here is so expertly composed and so manifestly deeply felt that its extraordinary emotional intensity transcends style and period. The opening Dixit Dominus is breathtaking in its contrapuntal complexities, the closing Magnificat heartrending in its operatic melodies, and the central madrigals gut-wrenching in their harmonic despair. As performed on this Naïve disc by the five voices and two instruments of the Concerto Italiano led by Rinaldo Alessandrini, these works are still enormously affecting even after three centuries. All five singers are amazing alone; that they could blend voices and bend tempos with such extraordinary taste and musicality is incredibly impressive. Anyone who likes the music of Italian Baroque in general and Scarlatti the elder in particular will enjoy this disc. Recorded in Rome in February 2000, Naïve's digital sound is as real as light, life, and love.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Dixit Dominus (No. 1) (Psalm 109), for chorus & organ|
|Magnificat for soloists, chorus, 2 violins, viola & continuo in D major|