> COZZOLANI Vespers MO0103 [KM]: Classical Reviews- April2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Chiara Margarita COZZOLANI (1602 - c. 1677)
Vespro della Beata Vergine
Second Vespers for the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin

CD 1
1. Versiculus et Responsorium: Deus in auditorium (Salmi a otto voci cocertati...Venice, 1650)
2. Antiphona: Missus est
3. Ps 109: Dixit Dominus (1650)
4. in loco 1. Antiphona: Concinant linguae (Concerti sacri a una Due, Tre, et Quattro voci, 1642)
5. 2. Antiphona Ave Maria
6. Ps 112: Laudate Pueri (1650)
7. in loco 2. Antiphona: O quam bonus (1650)
8. 3. Antiphona: Ne timeas
9. Ps 121: Laetatus sum (1650)
10. in loco 3. Antiphona: Venimus in altitudinem maris (1650)
11. 4. Antiphona: Dabit ei Dominus
12. Ps 126: Nisi Dominus (1650)
13. in loco 4. Antiphona: O gloriosa Domina

CD 2
1. Capitulum: Isaiah 7, 14-15
2. Responsorium breve: Angelus Domini
3. Hymnus: Ave maris stella
4. Antiphona ad Magnificat: Gabriel Angelus
5. Magnificat primo
6. in loco Antiphona ad Magnificat: Quid, miseri, quid faciamus
7. Collecta-Benedicamus Domino
8. in loco Deo Gratias: Surgamus omnes
9. Versiculus et Responsorium: Fidelium animae

CD 3 [17.28]
Beyond the Notes with commentary by Warren Stewart and Robert Kendrick

Magnificat - Warren Stewart, conductor
Coro Primo: Catherine Webster, Margaret Bragle, Jennifer Ellis, Jennifer Lane, Karen Clark
Coro Secondo: Ruth Escher, Suzanne Elder Wallace, Andrea Fullington, Elizabeth Anker
John Dornenburg, violone
David Tayler, theorbo
Hanneke van Proosdij, organ
Rec: April 1995, April 1998, March-May 1999, August 2000, June 2001, various locations.
MUSICA OMNIA MO0103 [142.13 + 17.28]

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Chiara Margarita Cozzolani was a Benedictine nun who lived her entire adult life in the Santa Radagonda convent, in Milan. While her music was destined to remain within these walls for centuries, huge crowds came to the conventís church to hear the "angelic voices" of the nuns who sang Cozzolaniís "passionate and ecstatic music". This recording, the first in a projected series of the composerís works, is a world premiere.

One can hear, from the very beginning of this work, that it is both firmly rooted in its past, yet fully modern for its time. It opens with a brief phrase in plainchant, and such sections are interspersed throughout the work. Yet when the whole choir begins singing, the sound blossoms with sonorities that were certainly modern at the time, and, even now, awaken the ear to new sounds. The music is rich with emotion - the colors and tones it contains are breathtaking. One could make a comparison with Hildegard of Bingen, but only in the intensity of the music - the two composers were separated by several centuries, but one can clearly hear that the music comes from the same place in the soul. At times, the choir sings in subtle layers of delicate voicing, similar to the madrigal style. At other times, a soloist takes the music to a different plane, singing what is almost an aria with the choir accompanying her.

The choir on this recording is excellent, with a beautiful tone and a magnificent texture. The rerecording is about as good as it could be, and puts these womenís voices in the perfect light. The resulting sound is captivating and enthralling.

Musica Omnia has come up with an original idea. Each of its recordings contains an additional CD, called Beyond the Notes. This is basically a presentation of the music with spoken text and musical examples. In a way, it can be seen as liner notes with music. While one would not want to listen to this CD many times, it is invaluable in giving the listener a more complete approach to the music. Whether listened to before or after hearing the music, it opens the ears to new insights, in a way that printed liner notes cannot. Musica Omnia deserves kudos for this idea, and it would be wonderful if other labels picked up on it. Here, Warren Stewart discusses the spirituality of Cozzolaniís music, and puts it into the context in which it was written and performed.

This beautiful recording is a revelation. Cozzolani was a unique composer, and her music has an otherworldly sound that is deeply attaching. Rush out and listen to this - you will be surprised, enchanted, and most probably delighted.

Kirk McElhearn



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