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Sacred Salterio – Lamentations of the Holy Week
D. Domenico MEROLA(18th c.)
Lezzione Seconda [17.46]
Anonymous (18th c.)
Lamentazione seconda p(er) Giovedi Santo la Sera (1781) [11.44]
Gennaro MANNA (1715-1779)
Lezzione Terza del Venerdi Santo [18.24]
Anonymous (18th c.)
Atta di dolore di Metastasio [3.01]
Miriam Feuersinger (soprano)
Il Dolce Conforto/Franziska Fleischanderl (salterio), Jonathan Pesek (violoncello), Deniel Perer (organ)
rec. St. Gerold, Austria 3-6 April 2016

The focus of this recording is the salterio. There are many (partial) illustrations in the booklet, though some imprecision in describing it. The salterio, a hammered psaltery or dulcimer, is an instrument with a charming sound. Its heyday was the eighteenth century, especially in Italy, but it fell out of use in the nineteenth century. It may be hammered or played pizzicato, and there is a relationship to such instruments as the zither. It has not got the heft for large ensembles or auditoria. It is perhaps unfortunate that the focus of the presentation of the disc is on this rarely used instrument, and that focus overlooks both the quality of the music and the quite admirable performances on this delightful CD.

The music here represents sacred use, with focus on the Tenebrae services of Holy Week. (Tenebrae means ‘darkness’) These services, not as common as before Vatican II, are observances of the Divine Office of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. The salterio was used as a supporting instrument, not least in Spanish convents but also in Italy, sometimes as a substitute for the organ. The present works have been preserved by the Benedictine nuns from the convent of San Severo in Apulia. The Lamentations are those of Jeremiah, which play an important part in the Tenebrae services as first and second lessons on each of the three days. The selection recorded here were all written in the soprano voice, the pieces for the liturgy were written to be sung by Alba Maria Santelli, a client of the convent, and, on this evidence, a most accomplished artiste. The Atta di dolore di Metastasio was written – probably – for Giuseppe D’Alfonzo, a castrato.

The music is not dark. Partly, the tone of the rather beautiful 1725 instrument used by Franziska Fleischanderl lightens textures, but there is much variety within the pieces. A special quality is added by the pure yet dramatic voice of Miriam Feuersinger, though all four performers blend wonderfully.

Notes are in English, German and Italian. There are full texts, but translation is only in German.

This CD will give immense pleasure as well as historical interest.

Michael Wilkinson



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