This disc contains
two very different oratorios. The first
is one of only two setting an Italian
text, instead of Latin. It seems to
be an early composition, as it is stylistically
rather close to the works of Monteverdi.
The two violins play the Sinfonia with
which the oratorio opens, some ritornellos
and also take part in the choruses.
This oratorio has only one protagonist,
the Virgin Mary. The first part describes
how Mary fights the devil and beats
him, the second part is a jubilation
about the Virgin's victory.
Whereas this oratorio
is a meditative piece, the second is
much more dramatic, as it tells the
story of the prophet Jonah, who is ordered
by God to tell the people of Nineveh
to turn away from their sins and convert
to God. Jonah tries to escape on a ship,
but God causes a storm. In order to
save their ship and their lives the
sailors throw Jonah into the sea. He
is swallowed by a fish and cries to
God from the belly of the fish. God
orders the fish to spit him out on a
beach. He goes to Nineveh and the people
of the city convert to God, which is
expressed in the closing chorus. Carissimi
makes use of the 'cori spezzati' technique,
and the parts of the violins are more
extended and virtuosic, in particular
in the closing chorus, than in the Oratorio
della SS Vergine.
disc can't be considered a worthwhile
contribution to the discography of Carissimi's
works. This is not the only Tactus release
where I have to complain about the technical
quality of the recording. Throughout
the disc there are many background noises,
like turning pages, which suggest a
live recording. But there is no mention
of this. If this is really a studio
recording, than these noises are unacceptable.
And this disc also has crackles as if
it was an LP.
isn't much better than the technical
quality, I'm afraid. Most voices are
stylistically more at home in the 19th
century than in the 17th. They are apparently
trained to produce sound rather than
text. It is hardly surprising, then,
that they don't blend very well. The
tempi are much too slow.
Some time ago I reviewed
another recording of this oratorio,
by the Consortium Carissimi (Naxos 8.557390),
which I wasn't satisfied with either,
but the difference in duration of 'Historia
Ionae' between the two recordings is
revealing: the Naxos recording takes
just 10 minutes less than this one.
Due to the slow tempi there is little
real interaction between the characters,
as there are gaps between the dialogues
are far too long.
One of the features
of the choruses in Carissimi's oratorios
is the repetition of motifs at different
pitches. The dramatic effect of this
compositional technique is completely
lost here, due to the slow tempo and
the undifferentiated loud singing. The
violins play very well - the only aspect
of this recording that I really enjoyed.
There is so much wrong
with this disc - musically and technically
- that the fact the booklet has no translation
of the lyrics doesn't really matter.
Musically this is a missed opportunity
to make a meaningful contribution to
the growing interest in Carissimi's
oeuvre. It is time the producers got
their act together. One can't expect
people to buy discs when they are likely
to be technically deficient.
Johan van Veen