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Francesco DURANTE (1684-1755)
Magnificat in B-flat [12:03]
Emanuele DíASTORGA (1680-ca. 1757)

Stabat mater [28í51]
Giovanni Battista PERGOLESI (1710-1736)

Confiteor tibi Domine [15í02]
Ann Monoyios, soprano
Stephanie Möller, soprano; Bernhard Landauer, counter-tenor; Hermann Oswald and Hans Jörg Mammel, tenors; Ekkehard Abele and Johannes Happel, basses.
Freiburger Barockorchester/Thomas Hengelbrock
Recorded 11-14 December 1995 in the Evangelische Kirche Gönningen DDD
DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 82876601452[59:13]


Thomas Hengelbrock and his fine ensembles have assembled an elegant program of liturgical works from three lesser-known yet significant composers who were either native of or transplanted to Naples. Perhaps Pergolesi is the most widely recognized name in the trio, and this mainly because of his very short life and the numerous attributions, apocryphal tales and outright plagiarisms that came to create an inflated legend of the otherwise supremely talented young composer. Although they never came to achieve Pergolesiís recognition, the other two masters represented here also led interesting lives and crafted music that is most certainly worthy of a place in the repertoire.

The concert opens with Duranteís tautly constructed Magnificat, often misattributed to his student Pergolesi. Chock full of singable tunes and sprightly orchestral writing, this charming work is given an impeccable performance by Herr Hengelbrock and his forces.

Emanuele DíAstorga, whose colorful life led to a representation in a number of nineteenth century tales, novels and even operas, contributes a sincere and well-crafted Stabat mater setting. Pergolesiís lofty setting of Psalm 110 (or 111, dependent upon which text you use) rounds out the disc and brings it to a forceful conclusion.

Hengelbrock, if his recordings are any indication, is a master of color and balance, and has assembled two ensembles that are pretty much faultless in their ensemble, intonation, clarity of text and line, and in short, all the other characteristics that make for exemplary performances. If one were to sum up the qualities of these musicians in a phrase, it would have to be "impeccably good taste." The music is delivered with its entire complement of emotions fully intact, yet there is never a sense of over-sentimentalizing, or gauche exaggerated theatrics. Herr Hengelbrock lets the music speak for itself, a feat of which it is fully capable without much outside help.

Particularly noteworthy are the soloists, mostly drawn from the choir itself. Each and every one of them deliver their parts with radiant clarity, spot-on intonation and an enviable rhythmic precision and flexibility of line. No bleating, "Sally straight tones" here, just full throated, well regulated singing that is a joy to hear.

The strings of the Freiburger Barockorchester are warm and (thankfully) quite in tune, and the balances between orchestra and choir are faultless. From the recording dates, this disc appears to be a re-issue, and if this is the case, I regret having missed it the first time round, and welcome gladly its new lease of life.

Program notes and production values are above reproach. Donít let this one pass you by. It is a worthy addition to any library, and especially for those who are lovers of fine choral singing. Highly recommended.

Kevin Sutton


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