Marco Beasley / Guido Morini / Accordone

Cantate Deo (A due tenori)

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The title and subtitle of this French release make pretty clear what listeners are getting: a collection of duo cantatas, performed by a single singer through the magic of multitracking. Interspersed with a few instrumental pieces, they come from the early and middle 17th century, from Monteverdi and his successors, and one reason to pick up the album might be that much of the music is unfamiliar and quite unpredictable and attractive once getting a feel for it. But of course the big question is the self-accompaniment by tenor Marco Beasley. The music of this period would seem to be amenable to such an experiment; it was, after all, notoriously malleable to ensemble in its own time, and several of the works here are performed in something other than their original configuration. Beasley's performance is undoubtedly virtuosic: he can make his two voices snap together closely in crisp contrapuntal dialogues or diverge and acquire their own personalities in freer lines. Once listeners know the gimmick, it takes on a life of its own as they have to try to trace Beasley's singing through its changes. The question is whether a general idea emerges, beyond simply trying to pull the trick off because it is there, whether Beasley's virtuosity extends to a larger emotional significance. Listeners will have to answer that for themselves.

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