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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


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Giovanni Battista PERGOLESI (1710-1736)
La Morte di San Giuseppe

Michele Farruggia - San Giuseppe
Bernatette Manca di Nissa - Maria Santissima
Maria Angeles Peters - San Michele
Patrizia Pace - Amor Divino
Orchestra Allesandro Scarlatti di Napoli,
Marcello Panni
Rec: June 1990, Auditorium Domenico Scarlatti, Napoli, Italy.
WARNER FONIT 0927 43308-2 [109.14]


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This recording is said to be a "critical edition" of Pergolesiís oratorio The Death of Saint Joseph, undoubtedly composed in 1730. Putting aside the musicological questions raised briefly in the notes, this is a strange recording indeed. Performed on period instruments, it does not use period vocalists. With a tenor singing in a Verdian style, a soprano singing off-key and sounding like she is singing Mozart, there is no coherence in this work.

Sure, the instrumentalists do a fine job - the sound of the orchestra is excellent. But at times, the singing can be almost painful - soprano Patrizia Paceís shrill voice is barely listenable as she struggles to sing on key. This singer is more a Mozart specialist than a singer of sacred baroque music, and it clearly sounds as if she was not the right choice for this work.

Tenor Michele Farruggia has recorded Rossini, but he, too, seems totally out of character in this baroque work, with his warbling vibrato. In fact, all of the singers seem out of place - as if they were recruited for this recording for reasons that have nothing to do with the music.

This is one recording to avoid. In spite of the excellent work of the orchestra which can be heard clearly, especially during some of the more subtle accompaniments, the singers do not at all fit this work, and it ends up sounding like a rehearsal, not a finished recording.

Kirk McElhearn


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