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Giovani Battista PERGOLESI (1710-1736)
Salve Regina in A minor (1736) [11:36]
Domenico GALLO (1730-1768?)
Sonata No.2 in B flat (1771) [3:46]
Giovani Battista PERGOLESI (1710-1736)
Salve Regina in C minor (1736) [14:53]
Domenico GALLO (1730-1768?)
Sonata No.4 in G major (1771) [6:47]
Leonardo LEO (1694-1744)
Salve Regina in F major [19:37]              
Barbara Schlick (soprano);
Europa Galante (Fabio Biondi, Fabrizio Cipriani (violin); Robert Ferrentino Brown (viola); Maurizio Naddeo (cello); Rinaldo Alessandrini (organ, harpsichord); Pascal Monteilhet (theorbo))/Fabio Biondi
rec. 29 June-2 July 1993, Abbeye de Saint-Michel en Thiérache, France
Texts and Translations included
NAÏVE OP30444 [58:39]

A little confusingly this is a simple repackaging of a CD first issued in 1995 on the OPUS 111 label as OPS 30-88. Indeed the inner case and all the documentation carry this number (and one or two errors therein remain uncorrected). Only a new and rather attractive cardboard slip case carries the number cited above, and identifies it as volume 10 in Naïve’s ‘Baroque Voices’ series.
Having said that, this is a disc whose reissue can be welcomed more or less unreservedly. It presents Biondi and Europa Galante at their vivacious best, the turns of expression vivid, the colours as bright as those of the decorative schemes in the baroque churches of Naples. Barbara Schlick sings throughout with agility, elegance and a degree of sensuousness that is entirely apt to the religious spirit of these works.
Pergolesi’s two settings of the Salve Regina are rather different one from another. That in C minor is darker, more passionate, the string writing (not least at the very beginning) richly expressive; indeed the first of its six movements, is a largo of exquisite beauty, a perfect illustration of a particular kind of baroque beauty, intensely expressive and seeming to hold back a freedom of lyricism which is effectively liberated only in the brief andante which follows. Some of the greatest baroque effects are created by interplay between restraint and excess. This is one of them. Intensity, a sense of abundance repressed returns in a second largo. There is richly poetic aptness to Pergolesi’s setting of the words of his text; when, in the penultimate movement he comes to set the petitionary words “Et Jesum benedictum fructum ventris tui nobis post hoc exsilium ostende” (And after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus) the writing (and this performance of it) has a ravishing tenderness and yearning.
The A minor setting is perhaps more familiar, but I am not sure that it is as interesting and is certainly not as powerful as that in C minor. Schlick is again impressive, but the whole feels rather more routine and less distinctive. But even when he is operating at a slightly less inspired level, one surely cannot be other than impressed by Pergolesi’s vocal writing.
The Salve Regina by Leonardo Leo presumably belongs to the last years of his life when he was vice-maestro di cappella of the Spanish viceroy in Naples. Here he sets a slightly fuller text of the Marian Antiphon than that to be heard in Pergolesi’s two settings. Leo’s version is stylistically more eclectic than either of Pergolesi’s settings. At times he can be operatically florid; at times the decorative nature of the writing seems to have little regard for the emotional (or theological) import of the words he is setting; but at other times there is a gallant and almost proto-classical quality to the writing. Listening to the three versions on the one CD, it is clear that Pergolesi’s settings are the culmination of earlier musical traditions, while Leo’s anticipates later music idioms (in part at least).
The three settings of the Salve Regina are interleaved, as it were, with two of the twelve sonatas published in London around 1780 as by Pergolesi – the sonatas of which Stravinsky made use in writing Pulcinella. The attribution was presumably a conscious attempt to cash in on the ‘name’ of Pergolesi; the sonatas were actually the work of Domenico Gallo, who appears to have been Venetian born, but may have been connected to the well-known Neapolitan musical family of the same surname. These are pleasant and attractive specimens of their type, without being in any way especially remarkable or memorable - a complete recording by Parnassi musici can be heard on CPO 999 717-2.
It is for the three settings of the Salve Regina that lovers of the Italian baroque will treasure this CD. It is shame that the pretty inadequate booklet notes remain from the original issue, but they needn’t detract from the listener’s pleasure in a richly fascinating – and pleasantly varied – programme.
Glyn Pursglove


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