Echo du Danube

Giovanni Girolamo Kapsperger: I Pastori de Bettelemme

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AllMusic Review by James Manheim

Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger, born in Venice to German parents, spent most of his life in Rome and rose to the top of the lavish musical establishment maintained by Pope Urban VIII and his family, the Barberinis. His music has been little performed, so this disc by the German group Echo du Danube is welcome. I Pastori di Bettelemme (The Shepherds of Bethlehem) was composed in 1630. It is a Christmas work, artfully weaving the pastoral themes of early opera with original religious poetry. You might think of it as a larger and more variegated version of the sacred madrigals that began to arise after the birth of opera earlier in the century, or as a smaller, incipient oratorio. Sometimes this type of work is referred to as a sacred dialogue. There are monodic declamatory sections, some of them coalescing into more rhythmic statements, instrumental sections designated as toccatas (which here just means "played pieces"), and choruses that are part of the action. The young German singers here are all fine, but what makes the performance work is the group's overall enthusiastic realization. Kapsberger's score does not specify the continuo instrumentation except for a "sordellina," a small tambourine, and Echo du Danube's active group of harps, viols, and lutes, with organ and recorder, makes the music come alive. This is recommended for those who enjoy the music of, say, Carissimi, and want to learn more about its origins.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Echo du Danube 02:26 Amazon
2 Echo du Danube 04:41 Amazon
I Pastori di Bettelemme
3 Echo du Danube 00:49 Amazon
4 Echo du Danube 06:30 Amazon
5 Echo du Danube 01:54 Amazon
6 Echo du Danube 01:59 Amazon
I Pastori di Bettelemme
7 Echo du Danube 04:31 Amazon
8 Echo du Danube 02:04 Amazon
9 Echo du Danube 02:45 Amazon
I Pastori di Bettelemme
10 Echo du Danube 02:34 Amazon
11 Echo du Danube 02:53 Amazon
I Pastori di Bettelemme
12 Echo du Danube 02:45 Amazon
13 Echo du Danube 02:36 Amazon
14 Echo du Danube 03:13 Amazon
15 Echo du Danube 03:09 Amazon
I Pastori di Bettelemme
16 Echo du Danube 04:00 Amazon
17 Echo du Danube 01:34 Amazon
18 Echo du Danube 00:58 Amazon
I Pastori di Bettelemme
19 Echo du Danube 05:52 Amazon
20 Echo du Danube 02:01 Amazon
21 Echo du Danube 02:39 Amazon
I Pastori di Bettelemme
22 Echo du Danube 04:39 Amazon
23 Echo du Danube 03:36 Amazon
24 Echo du Danube 02:31 Amazon
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