Stabat Mater - Motets to the Virgin Mary
Alessandro GRANDI (?1586-1630)
Salve Regina (Motetti a una, due vocie con sinfonie d'istromenti, Libro primo, A. Vincenti, Venezia) (1621) [3:53]
O quam tu pulchra es (Cantio sacra. R. Ewerhart, Köln) (1628) [3:26]
O intemerata (Il secondo libro de motetti a due, tre e quattro voci, Venezia, A. Vincenti) (1627) [3:09] ¹
Giovanni LEGRENZI (1626-1690)
Ave Regina coelorum (Sentimenti devoti espressi con la musica di due e tre voci, opera sesta, Libro secondo, G. Sala, Venezia) (1660) [3:26] ¹
Francesco CAVALLI (1602-1676)
O quam suavis (Mottetti a voce sola da diversi Eccellentissimi Autori, Libro primo, Venezia Gardano) (1645) [4:36]
Giovanni Antonio RIGATTI (1613-1648)
Regina coeli laetare (Motetti a voce sola, Magni, Venezia) (1643) [3:04]
Giovanni Paolo CAPRIOLI (?-1627)
Vulnerasti cor meum (Armoniae cantiones una, 2, 3, 4, 5 vocibus concinendae cum sonorum concentibus pro instrumentis, opus tertium, 1635, G. Rolla, Milano) [2:57]
Girolamo FRESCOBALDI (1583-1643)
Ave Maria Stella (Il Secondo libro di toccate, canzone, versi d'inni, magnificat, gagliarde, correnti e altre partite, d'intavolatura di cimbalo e organo di Girolamo Frescobaldi organista in San Pietro di Roma) (1637) [3:40]
Giovanni Felice SANCES (1600-1679)
Stabat Mater dolorosa (Motetti) (1636) [11:25]
Giovanni Battista BASSANI (1650-1716)
Corda lingua in amore (Metri sacri, resi armonici in motetti a voce sola con violini, opera ottava) (1690) [10:11]
Sonata prima (instrumental.) (1688) [8:10]
Andrea MATTIOLI (1620-1679)
Ave Regina coelorum (Harmonia sacra, dedota dal concerto di salmi, motetti, inni e antifone a voce sola. Con violini., A. Gardano, Venezia) (1765) [2:57]
Girolamo CASATI (c.1590- after 1657)
Sanctissima Virgo (Sacrae cantiones una, duabusque vocibus coninendae, J. Cassiani, Modena) (1618) [3:16]
Giovanni Paolo COLONNA (1637-1695)
O coeli devota (Motetti sacri a voce sola con due violini, G. Monti, Bologna) (1681) [7:12]
Philippe Jaroussky (counter-tenor)
Marie-Nicole Lemieux (contralto) ¹
Ensemble Artaserse
rec. December 2005, Eglise Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris
VIRGIN CLASSICS 693907 2 [71:31]
Recorded in 2005 and first released, I believe, the following year, this splendid disc of Marian motets reappears newly re-minted. Rome and Venice were the twin centres of the cult of devotion in Italy, and the seventeenth century witnessed a considerable exploration in the diverse forms available to composers of the time. This included the use of the affetti. Through such uses one can clearly hear the porous nature of the sacred and secular which seep one into the other, or - to be more specific - utilise overlapping musical devices. It is remarkable how, for example, elements of the Monteverdi operatic template permeate a number of the Venetian Marian settings.
Alesaandro Grandi was active in Ferrara but made his name principally in Venice. He was, in fact, Monteverdi’s assistant. The refined instrumental writing in his Salve Regina, the real interplay between these and the vocal textures is remarkably assured and effective. No less impressive is his O quam tu pulchra es which is lit by highly particular textual illuminations, heightening of certain words or phrases, and sensitive use of repeated phrases. Here we can also witness Philippe Jaroussky’s adept use of the lower part of his voice, in the shading and colouring of the line. O intemerata is a faster setting, direct, virtuosically inclined.
Giovanni Legrenzi succeeded Cavalli in Venice and his Ave Regina coelorum illustrates quite graphically how the operatic conventions of the time infiltrated Marian writing. This is a duet, for Jaroussky and the excellent contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux, and the fluid registral changes and vocal interplay are intensely dramatic, though not - it should be noted - florid. Of Cavalli himself we hear his intensely beautiful O quam suavis, an aria with glorious melismas and rich orchestral accompaniment. Its compact power is undeniable and richly realised in this performance. Rigati’s Regina coeli laetare sports some Monteverdi-inspired runs and has a role for obbligato fiddle.
One of the impactful settings is that of Giovanni Felice Sances, whose Stabat Mater dolorosa, published in 1636, is a devotional setting of great intensity and plangency. The diminuendi, sustenance of notes and fined-down tone attest to Jaroussky’s full involvement and wholehearted response. By contrast we find that Bassani’s Corda lingua in amore is a very much more externalised approach, predicated on virtuosity and levels of panache not heard elsewhere in the recital. Casati’s Sanctissima Virgo restores introspective intensity with a passionately integrated concertante setting that fluctuates between solo and accompaniment, in a truly beautiful way
Frescobaldi is represented by his organ piece, Ave Maria Stella, published in Rome in 1637. Bassani’s Sonata prima is a multi-faceted and enviably articulate work for violin and continuo.
Full texts are provided, and the recording, made in the Eglise Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris, is wholly sympathetic. Admirers of Jaroussky and/or the Marian motets he sings with such selfless eloquence should look on this disc, if not already acquired, as an important purchase.
Jonathan Woolf  

This splendid disc of Marian motets reappears newly re-minted.

see also review by Johan van Veen