Saturday, June 10, 2017

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi; Alessandro Scarlatti - Messe (Rinaldo Alessandrini)


Composer: Giovanni Battista Pergolesi; Alessandro Scarlatti
  • (01-12) Pergolesi - Messa di S. Emidio
  • (13-17) A. Scarlatti - Messa per il Santissimo Natale

Concerto Italiano
Rinaldo Alessandrini, conductor

Date: 2008
Label: Naïve



Neglected Italian Masses articulately shaped by performers on fine form

These two Masses were performed in Rome almost 30 years apart by composers both strongly associated with Naples. The Messa di S Emidio (also known as the Missa Romana) is one of only two works that are accepted as authentic Pergolesi Mass settings, although different versions survive. The first was apparently composed for a service in the Neapolitan church of S Maria della Stella de’ PP Minimi in 1732, but Pergolesi later revised it for several choirs and two orchestras (the version recorded here). When performed in Rome at S Lorenzo in Lucina in 1734 an eyewitness described the music as “terrifying…ingenious and most unusual”. One can instantly perceive why: Concerto Italiano’s 10 singers and 19 instrumentalists (including two horns and two trumpets) make an extraordinary noise in the stacking chords that commence the volatile Kyrie. Some of Alessandrini’s singers suffer from dodgy tuning at first, but things soon settle down, and reflective moments are particularly well performed (such as a striking “Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris”).

The disc concludes with an impressive account of Alessandro Scarlatti’s magnificent Messa per il Santissimo Natale (“Christmas Mass”). Written in 1707 for the Roman Basilica S Maria Maggiore, it shows Scarlatti’s mastery at fusing Renaissance stile antico for two choirs (with very little doubling) with solo voice passages and imaginative instrumental parts for two violins. Concerto Italiano are on especially good form in Scarlatti’s finely woven counterpoint (Agnus Dei is exquisite), though both neglected Masses benefit from Alessandrini’s articulately shaped interpretations.

-- David VickersGramophone

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Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (4 January 1710 – 16 March 1736) was an Italian composer, violinist and organist. Pergolesi was one of the most important early composers of opera buffa. He also wrote sacred music, including a Mass in F, three Salve Regina settings and the Stabat Mater (1736), which is his best-known sacred work.  The work remained popular, becoming the most frequently printed musical work of the 18th century, and being arranged by a number of other composers, including Johann Sebastian Bach. Pergolesi also wrote a number of secular instrumental works.


Alessandro Scarlatti (2 May 1660 – 22 October 1725) was an Italian Baroque composer, especially famous for his operas and chamber cantatas. He is considered the founder of the Neapolitan school of opera. He was the father of two other composers, Domenico Scarlatti and Pietro Filippo Scarlatti. Scarlatti's music forms an important link between the early Baroque Italian vocal styles of the 17th century, with their centers in Florence, Venice and Rome, and the classical school of the 18th century.


Rinaldo Alessandrini (born 25 January 1960 in Rome) is a Italian virtuoso on Baroque keyboards, including harpsichord, fortepiano, and organ. He is founder and conductor of the Italian early music ensemble Concerto Italiano, performing music of Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Couperin, Bach, and others. He is considered a foremost interpreter of early Italian opera. Alessandrini and the Concerto Italiano have toured extensively in Europe and recorded for various labels such as Tactus, Opus111 and Naïve,


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