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Recordings of the Month


From Ocean’s Floor


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience


Symphonies 1, 2, 3


CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Josep MIR I LLUSSÀ (c.1700-1764)
Missa a 8 in D, for solo voices, choir and orchestra (1760) [30:12]
Stabat Mater in G minor, for double choir and continuo (1756) [8:44]
Quomodo Obscurantum est - Lamentation II del Dissabte Sant, for tenor and orchestra (1753) [11:14]
Lauda Jerusalem - Psalm in A minor, for double choir and orchestra [8:36]
Lluís Vilamajó (tenor)
La Xantria/Pere Lluís Biosca
Vespres d'Arnadí/Dani Espasa
rec. Auditori Municipal, Vilafranca del Penedès, Spain, 28 November - 2 December 2010 and 26 January 2011. DDD

Experience Classicsonline

This is the second recording by the Catalonia-based period ensemble Vespres d'Arnadí under Dani Espasa on the new Catalan label Musièpoca. It follows a superb debut - one of the finest releases of 2011, indeed - that featured the music of French Baroque composer Charles Desmazures - see review. Like that CD, this one is beautifully designed, recorded and performed. Executive producers and label management Pere Saragossa and Dani Espasa, together with graphic designer Rosa Gomis, deserve a mention in this review for their excellent production.
Catalan Josep Mir i Llussà was a partial contemporary of Desmazures, a generation-and-a-bit younger, though their paths did not cross. Mir i Llussà spent most of his life in Spain, working at Segovia, Valladolid and finally Madrid by royal appointment. Mir i Llussà's music attractively blends a modern approach with deliberately archaic elements - nowhere more so than in the lugubriously beautiful Stabat Mater. It brims with captivating melody, rhythmic vitality and carefully wrought textures evocatively coloured by the period instruments of Vespres d'Arnadí, whose members are drawn from the likes of Les Talens Lyriques, Le Concert des Nations and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra.
Of the great masters it is probably Vivaldi whose sacred music is most often suggested, especially in the great Missa a 8, yet Mir i Llussà has his own distinct voice. This is splendidly brought to life by those of La Xantria, under Pere Lluís Biosca, and by tenor Lluís Vilamajó in some expressive solos. Vespres d'Arnadí support the singers at all times with exquisite attention to period detail and superb musicianship.
Notes and biographies are provided in the booklet in Catalan, Spanish, English and German, although the track-listing and performer information is only given in Catalan. The translation into English is rendered with a heavy foreign accent that sometimes borders on unintelligible, not helped by several spelling mistakes and/or technical mistranslations - "gallant" for 'galant', "continuous bass" for 'basso continuo', "moans" for "lamentations". Sung texts are provided at the back, albeit in Latin only. The booklet itself is glued by its back page to the digipak case.
On the evidence of this CD, it is unforgivable to leave Mir i Llussà to moulder in the cobwebby annals of 18th century masters of Iberia. Espasa and company - ensemble and label - deserve great credit for resurrecting this music in such an attractive package. Translations aside, the only criticism that can really be made is that another twenty minutes' worth of it all could have been included.

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