Daniele Ferrari

Sammartini: Gerusalemme

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The back cover text of this Sammartini disc is inaccurate; it states that the central work on this album, Gerusalemme sconoscente ingrata, is "set to a text from another of his cantatas, La perfida giudaica nella SS. Passione di Gesù Cristo." In fact, that blatantly anti-Semitic title (Jewish Perfidy in the Most Holy Passion of Jesus Christ) is merely the subtitle of the work recorded here, which lives up to what the title promises in terms of lurid anti-Jewish rhetoric. It's pretty hard to take, especially in view of the fact that there were other Lenten cantatas of Sammartini that could have been recorded; an excerpt from this work would have sufficed to give a picture of the music. It's hard to make an unsatisfying Sammartini recording, but this one fills the bill. The two small symphonies at the end of the disc are undistinguished examples of the form, and the combination of the rather rough Symphonica Ensemble with a diverse group of soloists doesn't jell. The vocal music on the disc (the final work, a Confitebor, is a Latin contrafactum of an Italian-language sacred aria) is quite unusual; it was written not for liturgical use but for a lay group that met in a Milanese Jesuit church. The text of Gerusalemme is in Italian, not Latin, and the work has an imposing language quite different from that of Sammartini's symphonies. The program is not without interest for students of the classical era, but casual listeners are warned: despite the disclaimers in the booklet, the texts are just as bad as they sound.

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