Morten Schuldt-Jensen

Domenico Scarlatti: Sacred Vocal Music

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AllMusic Review by

Several recent recordings have taken up Domenico Scarlatti's choral music, which is as conservative as his keyboard sonatas are radical. This is not just the result of the placement early in Scarlatti's career of the music heard here; the Te Deum, indeed, was written after Scarlatti arrived in Lisbon, and the other pieces are hard to date with any certainty. The Missa Breve "La stella" and Stabat Mater retain many features of the sacred music of the seventeenth century, with frequent exploitations of block contrasts and short sections that shift in tempo and meter. Much of the music is contrapuntal, and operatic influences are sparse. Consider the Stabat Mater, an unusual piece that deserves to be better known. It is a genuine 10-voice work -- the ensemble is possibly divisible, as annotator Keith Anderson claims, into two five-voice choirs, but really it's a flexible group of 10 that exploits a constantly changing set of texture contrasts. These works are gorgeous examples of polyphony in the old style, enriched by the developing harmonic language of the late Baroque. The Missa Breva "La Stella" achieves a strikingly distinctive response to the mass text with its combination of short sections and flexible language. Sample the "Incarnatus" (track 10), with its arcane harmonic language of ultimate mystery, and the explosion of joy at the subsequent Resurrexit, intensified by the buzzing continuo group of violine, theorbo, and organ. The Immortal Bach Ensemble (which will at least be around to collect the reissue royalties) is a 10-voice group, which means there is one voice per part to the Stabat Mater -- a strong choice in this work, for it clarifies the complex textures. The group penetrates the expressive fervor beneath the music's conventional surfaces, and it is on solid ground in the a cappella readings of the Magnificat and the elevation motet Cibavit nos Dominus, which is interpolated between the Sanctus and Agnus Dei of the mass -- which are in an even older style, although the a cappella status of the Magnificat is a matter of debate. In all, this album is an excellent choice for anyone who has ever been curious about this aspect of Domenico Scarlatti's career.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Te Deum, motet for double chorus & organ in C major
1
2:45 Amazon
2
3:07 Amazon
Missa, for chorus & organ in A minor ("La stella")
3
0:49 Amazon
4
1:11 Amazon
5
1:17 Amazon
6
1:37 Amazon
7
2:10
8
0:32 Amazon
9
1:05 Amazon
10
1:47 Amazon
11
2:04 Amazon
12
2:30 Amazon
13
0:59 Amazon
14
1:21 Amazon
15
3:22 Amazon
Missa, for chorus & organ in A minor ("La stella")
16
3:31 Amazon
Magnificat in D minor, for chorus
17
4:30 Amazon
18
1:41 Amazon
19
3:36 Amazon
20
2:32 Amazon
Stabat Mater, for double chorus & continuo in C minor
21
2:23 Amazon
22
3:40 Amazon
23
2:21 Amazon
24
1:37 Amazon
25
1:37 Amazon
26
0:54 Amazon
27
1:37 Amazon
28
3:20 Amazon
29
2:16 Amazon
30
1:40 Amazon
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