with all these Arkiv CDs you’ll get a bargain-priced record
company-authorised CD-R with a reproduction of the original
product booklet’s cover and back only. The original liner-notes
are not included.
well worth it, though: Cinque Profeti is a little known
Christmas cantata by Alessandro Scarlatti. It has a power and
subtlety redolent of Handel coupled with touches of early Monteverdi.
Sung here to great effect by the five soloists with sensitive
instrumentalists, they play together to bring the gentle and
subtle melodies - surely written to confer a sense of the special
nature of the Christmas season - to life. It’s a recording which
is sure to please.
was not performed in Rome for much of Alessandro Scarlatti's lifetime; that's why
his vocal church music mostly comprised oratorios and cantatas,
of which he wrote three for the Palazzo Apostolico. Only one
survives: to a libretto by Silvio Stampiglia. Cinque Profeti
takes the inventive form of a conversation between the five
old testament prophets, Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah and
Abraham (the cinque profeti) about the birth of Christ – which
was about to be celebrated on the occasion of the cantata’s
first performance, in 1705 at the Papal Palace in Rome.
that time it had been a Christmas Eve tradition for thirty years
that the Pope should give a banquet after Vespers for the College
of Cardinals at which music such as this was performed. From
1700 the influential patron Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni oversaw
the papal choir and was thus responsible for these performances.
Corelli was Ottoboni's concertmaster and almost certainly took
part in Cinque Profeti. His Sonata a Quattro in G
Minor is a vibrant piece, characteristically rich harmonically.
It is played at the beginning of this little treasure of a CD
- as a kind of curtain-raiser. These must surely have been very
music of Cinque Profeti is varied – simple arioso exposition,
reflective solo and ensemble numbers and some beautiful fugal
writing of such delicacy and lightness of touch that – if it
weren’t for the melody – you might imagine you were listening
to Rameau or Purcell … almost. There is a fair measure of pathos
and lamentation, passion and vigour in equal measure from all
five singers. Nor is Scarlatti’s writing over-declamatory or
in any way bombastic. It manages to blend respect for the occasion
and circumstance - celebration of the birth of Christ - with
joy and uplift. These sentiments the singers represent well;
particularly Schlick and Prégardien, with their careful
enunciation and easy-paced delivery.
performance is of a high standard, though not outstanding; some
minor wobbles here and there. But since this is the only version
of this interesting and lively work in the current catalogue,
if it’s repertoire that interests you, you should not hesitate
to get a copy.