One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger


Buy through MusicWeb for £11.50 postage paid World-wide. Immediate delivery
You may prefer to pay by Sterling cheque to avoid PayPal. Contactfor details

Purchase button

Giacomo CARISSIMI (1605-1674)

Oratorio della SS Vergine [25:57]
Historia Ionae [28:37]
Complesso Pro Musica Firenze/Gabriele Micheli
rec. July 2003, Chiesa di Lamole Greve, Chianti, Florence, Italy. DDD
TACTUS TC 602802 [54:34]


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.

Unfortunately this 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.

The interpretation 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


We are currently offering in excess of 52,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

a vibrant slice of life

stylistically assured

About Every Hill and Valley
Swedish Songs

Hallberg and Dente
interesting and most welcome

An inspired partnership
additional review

A valuable document

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.