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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



José De NEBRA (1702-1768)
Miserere

1.Miserere mei Deus
2.Et secundum multitudinem
3.Amplius lava me
4.Quoiniam iniquitatem
5.Tibi soli peccavi
6.Ecce enim in iniquitatibus
7.Ecce enim veritatem
8.Asperges me
9.Auditui meo
10.Averte faciem
11.Cor mundum crea
12.Ne projicias me
13.Redde mihi
14.Docebo
15.Libera me
16.Domine, labia mea aperies
17.Quoniam si voluisses
18.Sacrificium Deo
19.Benigne fac
20.Tun acceptabis
21.Tunc imponent
Two extracts from the zarzuela
Para obsequio a la deydad nunca es culto la crueldad, I Iphinenia en Tracia
22.Allegro cantabile (instrumental)
23.Yo soy, tyrana (Rezitativ)
24.Ha, ingrato (Duett)
Marta Almajano, soprano
Xenia Meijer, mezzo-soprano
Al Ayre Español, Eduardo Lopez Banzo
Rec: August - September, November 2000, Evangelische Kirche Gönningen, Germany.
DHM 05472 77532 2 [57.38]


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This sacred work by Spanish composer José de Nebra, which alternates arias and plainchant, recalls Handelís Carmelite Vespers, written a few years earlier. While this structure may be somewhat jarring to us modern listeners, it was obviously fairly common in the 18th century. There is also clearly an Italian influence, as the aria sections are similar in sound and structure to the Italian cantata of the time, another genre for which Handel was well-known.

If I cite Handel several times, it is because this music clearly reminds this listener of Handel. Both melodically and technically, the music and the style of singing are very Handelian. The two soloists are strong, especially mezzo-soprano Xenia Meijer, whose voice recalls Magdalena Kozena. Neither of the soloists overdo vibrato, which is certainly refreshing in this kind of work, and both of them have enviable ranges and emotional projection.

This is grand music, and, again, as in Handelís music, the arias fill the ears and heart with magnificent melodies. Sure, that is perhaps too many references to Handel, but the music is so much like Handel it is hard to think otherwise. This could be a negative point as well. It is similar to Handel, but not quite, and some listeners might not find it "original". Nevertheless, this is a real pleasure to listen to, and the two soloists are a real advantage.

A fine disc that deserves to be discovered by fans of Handel and other baroque music. This is a disc to listen to over and over to appreciate the fine voices on display. This is a beautiful, moving recording.

Kirk McElhearn


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