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AVAILABILITY  La Bottega Discantica

Nino ROTA (1911-1979)
Mysterium - Oratorio per soli, coro, coro voci bianche e orchestra in 7 parti (1962)
Gino Sinimberghi (ten); Ugo Trama (basso); Angelica Tuccari (sop); Corinna Vozza (mezzo)
Cori della Pro Civitate Christiana di Assisi/Giulio Sani
Orchestra della Pro Civitate Christiana di Assisi/Armando Renzi
rec. 1962. ADD

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The Italian classical CD retailer and record company have a thriving classical catalogue although much of it is pre-20th century. They were obliging enough to make review copies available of some of their discs including two separate uniformly designed and packaged discs: Respighi’s Christus (see review - BDI125) and Rota’s Mysterium, a major piece for soloists, choir include children’s choir and full orchestra. 
While the Respighi was a recording from 1991 the Rota is from 1962. The analogue sound as conveyed here has had its hiss tamed by Musica Numeris of Brussels who digitally restored and remastered the iron oxide tape. The ambience achieved is rich and resonantly sonorous without much in the way of distortion except on the ringing singing of the bass Ugo Trama in Part III and later when, in the same part, when the choir is going at full tilt. This is noticeable but only transient. Oddly enough the recording avoids the tendency occasionally evident in BDI125 for the engineers to pull back on the controls in the louder passages.
The sung text is there in Latin, Italian and English although not in side-by-side format.
The helpful liner notes are by Fernando-Vittorino Joannes.
The music is brooding, passionately devotional, regretfully nostalgic, romantic, blazing and gritty, rhythmically inventive, ringing with fervent sincerity and even operatic. Rota’s gift for illustration is uncannily vivid fore example when he is portraying the scattering of the grain at the start of Part VI while at the same time doffing his hat to Rossini. Another fingerprint is his penchant for little ostinato cells – especially the gentle ticking of time in Part VII. As you would expect, the writing is not at all avant-garde. The parallels are rather with Walton in his Te Deum and Gloria and Verdi’s Requiem (tr. 7 03:22) – somewhere between the two styles with perhaps a dash of Orff. The recording exudes fully commitment and the finale in particular radiates logic and a sense of spiritual conviction.
Rob Barnett


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