Kirk Trevor / Capella Istropolitana

Cimarosa: Requiem

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Neapolitan composer Domenico Cimarosa started out as a church musician, but made his name in opera. His skills earned him court appointments, and one of them, in the mid-1780s, from Catherine the Great of Russia. It was for her court, to memorialize a deceased French ambassador, that this Requiem in G minor for soloists, chorus, and orchestra was composed in 1787. Taken for what it is, without expectation that it will much resemble Mozart's or Haydn's church music, it's an attractive work even if it's a trifle inadequate to its subject. The package blurb promises "vivid evocations" of the day of wrath and other such riches, but the music contains nothing of the sort. Instead you get some pretty rudimentary choruses surrounding some very operatic arias where you sense that Cimarosa was in his element. Most of them offer long, sustained melodies that can hold their own with the solos in Mozart's Vesperae solennes de confessore, K. 339, and other choral music of the period. Sample the lovely alto solo setting of the "Judex ergo" (track 7), given a creamy reading by Terézia Kruzliaková. The vocal performance standards on this Eastern European release are uniformly high, and the smooth overall texture forged by American conductor Kirk Trevor, leading the venerable Capella Istropolitana, does the job in putting the soloists front and center. Mozart might easily have had this or other requiem settings in his head when composing his ultimate masterpiece, and anyone curious about Cimarosa's sacred output can be encouraged to give this album a try.

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