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Salvatore SACCO (1572-c.1622)
Missa (1607) [26.10]
Dialogus B.M.V [7.47]
Litaniae Laurentanae [7.42]
Gaudeamus Omnes [2.03]
Graduale (cantus planus) [3.56]
Communio (cantus planus) [1.22]
Veni Sponsa Christa [3.10]
Paolo QUAGLIATI (c.1555-1628)
Toccata dell’Ottavo Tuno [3.36]
Canzona II [2.21]
Templum Musicae
Francesco Di Lernia (organ)
Vincenzo Di Donato
rec. Zocca, Modena, October 2003.
CARUS 83.191 [58.05]


Sacco, born in the province of Foggia in 1572, is one of those Italian polyphonists whose hold on the repertoire is tenuous. The hold rests entirely on a single collection of sacred music, known to exist in three copies, which forms the basis of this disc’s reconstruction of a Marian liturgy.

Sacco, also known as Sacchi, held important positions in the South, journeyed north to Rome to study at Palestrina’s school – though it’s not definitively known if he was a personal pupil of Palestrina’s. He eventually returned to Cerignola in Foggia. This 1607 collection was published when he was maestro di cappella at the cathedral of San Giacomo in Viterbo. It’s notable for its use of a double choir with thorough bass. Of more interest, maybe to the generalist, is the unaffected and clear compositional style. It’s one that seems to owe a clear debt to Palestrina but which manages to reserve a kind of personal integrity of expression. It can’t perhaps be argued that he attained the powerful command of other contemporaries of the second generation of the Roman school – not least because the Roman Polychoral School was at its blazing summit at around this time. However Sacco’s (reconstructed) liturgy makes strong appeals.

There’s certainly powerfully impressive dignity in his setting of the Dialogus. Polychoral mastery is in evidence throughout, and there’s no straining for extraneous effect. There also technical prowess in imitative phraseology. His sheer delicacy of setting is best heard in the lovely Gloria of the 1607 Missa. And the accelerandi and slowings down in the Litaniae Laurentanae are evidence of a theatrical ear for movement and expressive effect. He certainly ensures that important textual matter is highlit in the most direct and yet unsimplistic way. The emotive heart of the Missa setting is the Credo – the Et incarnatus est is particularly moving – but the power of Sacco’s poignancy is everywhere evident.

Three moments of cantus planus are here as well – the Graduale, Offertorium and Communio. And for further variety we also have some organ works by Paolo Quagliati (c.1555-1628). He was also part of the migratory passage northwards, from Venice to Rome, where he died. He was a technician of high quality if these few brief examples are representative of his instrumental writing. It would be good to hear more of his choral music.

These are groundbreaking performances then. It’s becoming increasingly fashionable to build CD programmes around reconstructed and newly edited Marian masses but this one will be new to all but the most specialised of scholars. The performances are warmly sympathetic, the voices youthful and well blended, the direction athletic when necessary. The recorded sound captures them well, as it does the organ. Full texts and notes.

Jonathan Woolf





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