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Martin PALMERI (b. 1965)
Aleksandra Turalska (soprano)
Agata Schmidt (mezzo-soprano)
Mario Stefano Pietrodarchi (bandoneon)
Martin Palmeri (piano)
Astrolabium Choir
Chamber Orchestra Capella Bydgostiensis/Kinga Litowska
rec. live, I.J.Paderewski Pomeranian Philharmonic Concert Hall, 1 July 2015
DUX 1343 [46.19]

Some months ago I reviewed the Argentinian Martin Palmeri’s Misa a Buenos Aires ‘Misatango’ and Tango Gloria on an enterprising CPO release, music I enjoyed very much, commenting that it was ‘appealing modern liturgical music – with an Argentinian twist.’ That recording was made by a German label, with largely German forces. Now we have a fine release from Poland, with principally, but not exclusively, Polish performers. The composer himself plays the piano, and the Italian Mario Stefano Pietrodarchi plays the bandoneon, which has a prominent part in the recording, as it does in tango ensembles in South America.

In the works on the cpo recording, the indebtedness to the tango (which, of course, has many varieties) is explicit. In the Magnificat, while the indebtedness is evident, it tends to be used a little more freely – one senses less constraint. As in the previous recording, the use of the dance form does not inhibit variety. Compare, for example, the rhythmically striking opening movement with the lyrical Et Exultavit Spiritus Meus which follows. A particular strength is the clarity of the word-setting, something too often overlooked. Quia Respexit Humilitatem, the third movement, begins with a gentle (humble?) setting for bandoneon and string orchestra, with the succeeding gently undulating music (for duet and chorus, with prominent piano) being both devout and beautiful.

The work is not big in scale, which might encourage further performances – the orchestra is small and chamber-sized (six violins, three violas, two cellos and double-bass), the chorus has fewer than forty voices (splendidly articulate and responsive). Kinga Litowska is their regular conductor as well as co-founder. A particular joy is that this live recording followed a run of concert performances – the music sounds lived in and with, rather than just picked up for a recording. A special word for the magnificent soloists, Aleksandra Turalska and Agata Schmidt. Their voices are young, their delivery unselfconscious but secure – and they blend so well.

Production values are high – with fine recording and clean textures. Overall, this is a most enjoyable release.

Michael Wilkinson



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