MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around

2021
57,616reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

 

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 







Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer

International mailing


 
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

 

paid for
advertisements

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews


TROUBADISC
Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews


FOGHORN Classics

Alexandra-Quartet
Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews


All HDTT reviews

Love-violin-NI6428
Salon Treasures from the Max Jaffa Library

 

 


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

 

Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Loughton
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom

jonathan_woolf@yahoo.co.uk


 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Francesc VALLS (c.1671-1747)
Misa Scala Aretina
Psalm: Lauda Ierusalem a 10 [6:37]
Responsory: Sancta et immaculata a 8 [5:26]
Tono al Santísimo Sacramento: En el misterioso circo a 4 [4:43]
Lesson: De lamentatione Ieremiae prophetae a 8 [6:05]
Motet: Surrexit pastor bonus a solo [3:01]
Motet: Domine vim patior a 4 [2:12]
Motet: Plorans ploravit a 4 [1:59]
Invitatory: Ave Maria a 8 [3:30]
Villancico: Sombras cobardes a 12 [6:55]
Misa Scala Aretina a 11 [32:42]
La Grande Chapelle/Albert Recasens
rec. live, 2014, La Seu Vella, Lleida, Spain. DDD
Texts and translations included
LAUDA LAU014 [74:34]

Francesc Valls is almost exclusively known for his Missa Scala Aretina, mainly because it caused a fiery debate among composers of his time. "The polemics to which the mass gave rise centred on the second soprano's entry on an unprepared 9th at 'miserere nobis' in the Gloria. Gregorio Portero, maestro de capilla at Granada Cathedral, fired the first salvo in 1715", Craig H. Russell writes in New Grove. "What had started as a debate among professionals was gradually heating up to reach boiling point in the spring of 1717, when many of the masters of the peninsula took sides", according to Álvaro Torrente in the liner-notes to the present recording. However, this debate wasn't just about musical matters. It had everything to do with politics which played a major role in Valls' career and even caused his dismissal as maestro de capilla of Barcelona Cathedral in 1719.

A significant part of his career fell during the years of the War of the Spanish Succession. It was a result of Charles II, the last Habsburg King of Spain, dying without a heir in 1700. Attempts to solve the problem by dividing the empire among the candidates for the throne failed. Charles II designated Philip, Duke of Anjou, the second-eldest grandson of King Louis XIV of France (representing the house of Bourbon), as his successor. A coalition of other countries, fearing French dominance of the continent, supported Emperor Leopold I's claim to the whole Spanish inheritance for his second son, Archduke Charles. The strong anti-French feelings in Catalonia led to support for Charles and the Allied cause. In 1705 Barcelona was taken by the Allied forces and Charles settled there until the city was conquered by the Bourbon party in 1714. As in the previous years Valls had cooperated with Charles in musical matters he fell out of grace and was removed from his post in 1719. Gregorio Portero who initiated the debate about Valls' Missa Scala Aretina was known for his strong Bourbon profile. "[If] we analyse its context in detail (...) and the biography of the key protagonists, Valls' detractors mostly held a clearly pro-Bourbon affiliation, while among his defenders were many musicians from the regions supporting the Hapsburgs. It is thus patently clear that the argument over aesthetics was merely one of the dimensions of the controversy but perhaps not the most relevant one" (Torrente).

Various works recorded here include parts for trumpets and that could well be explained by the fact that they were written during the time Charles resided in Barcelona. He and his wife often attended feasts and some of the music by Valls may have been performed on such occasions, for instance the villancico Sombres cobardes. When Charles came to Barcelona he was accompanied by his Italian musicians. This resulted in an increasing influence by the Italian style in Spain. However, even before then Valls had already adopted some elements of the Italian idiom. The Missa Scala Aretina is a specimen of the mixture of Italian and traditional Spanish elements. It is basically written in the stile antico but Valls added characteristics of the concertante style in vogue in Italy. Listening to this mass I was reminded of the multi-choral music written in cities like Rome and Bologna in the late 17th century, sometimes described as 'colossal baroque'. It is not just the splendour of the scoring which impresses. There are also passages of strong expression, for instance the closing episode of the second Kyrie, 'Qui tollis peccata mundi' from the Gloria - including the chord which inspired the above-mentioned debate - and the use of dissonants to depict the words "passus et sepultus est" from the Crucifixus (Credo). At the end of the Credo the words "peccatorum" and "mortuorum" receive special treatment. The mass is for 11 voices, but includes sections for reduced voices and even passages for only a pair of them, such as 'Domine Deus' (Gloria) for two sopranos, the second imitating the first.

This disc offers a survey of the various styles on which Valls drew. Some pieces are - like the mass - in the stile antico, such as Sancta et immaculata and the motets Domine vim patior and Plorans ploravit. The former is a remarkable piece for its heavy chromaticism which is reminiscent of Carlo Gesualdo or the chromatic experiments by Jacobus Handl-Gallus in his motet Mirabile mysterium. Plorans ploravit, a text from the Lamentations of Jeremiah, also includes some strong dissonants. At the other end of the spectrum we find the Easter motet Surrexit pastor bonus, in which the solo voice conducts a dialogue with a violin.

One of the features of the Italian style is the close connection between text and music. That comes to the fore in Lauda Ierusalem, with triplets on the words "velociter currit sermo eius" (his word runneth swiftly) and dissonants on "ante faciem frigoris eius quis sustinebat" (who can stand the cold). Italian influences also shine through in Valls' villancicos, a typically Spanish genre. In En el misterioso circo this influence is represented by the use of ritornellos for the strings instead of the traditional repetition of the final part of the refrain. In Sombras cobardes Valls omits the stanzas but includes a recitative.

This production is of great importance. The Missa Scala Aretina may be quite well-known by name, there are hardly any recordings available. Probably the first dates from 1980, with John Hoban directing the London Oratory Choir and The Thames Chamber Orchestra on modern instruments. In 1992 Gustav Leonhardt recorded the mass with the Netherlands Bach Society on period instruments. It seems that no other recordings have been made since then. It hardly needs saying that a new recording is most welcome. Álvaro Torrente writes that the first and second choirs seem designed for soloists, considering the many solos, but the third choir "involved tutti in the chapel". This is probably comparable to the use of a capella in many works by Heinrich Schütz. Albert Recasens opted for a strictly one-to-a-part performance. That seems perfectly legitimate, but leaves room for a version with a larger ensemble. One of the virtues of this modest line-up is the transparency and the clarity of the text, which is extended by the lack of vibrato in the voices and the excellent diction and articulation of the singers. At the same time the use of solo voices is not at the expense of the monumental nature of the mass. The rest of the programme receives the same high-standard performance. The good intonation of the singers guarantees that where Valls uses harmonic tension or dissonances in the interest of text the expressive substance of the music comes across perfectly.

The fact that this disc affords us a differentiated picture of Valls' oeuvre speaks strongly in its favour. The quality of the music and the performance, and the outstanding documentation in the booklet only enhance its value.

Johan van Veen
www.musica-dei-donum.org
twitter.com/johanvanveen



 

 



Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews



all Bridge reviews


all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews

 

Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

August 2022

Hervelois
Louis Caix d'Hervelois

massenet
orchestral songs

Singleton

 


String Quartets

la folia

mysterious

 

July 2022

John Luther Adams Houses of the Wind
John Luther Adams
Houses of the Wind

Horneman Alladin
Horneman Alladin

Stojowski piano concertos
Piano Concertos 1 & 2

Vaughan Williams on Brass


Yi Lin Jiang - Dualis I