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Giovanni Antonio RIGATTI (c1613-1648)
Vespro della Beata Vergine
I Disinvolti, UtFaSol Ensemble/Massimo Lombardi
rec. 2018/19, Chiesa dei Santi Filippo e Giacomo, Monte Magrč (Schio, Vicenza), Italy
Reviewed as a stereo 16/44 download with pdf booklet from Outhere
ARCANA A121 [76:54]

Italian music from the first half of the 17th century does not exactly suffer from a lack of interest. In the field of vocal music Claudio Monteverdi attracts by far the most attention of performers, but in recent years the operas of Francesco Cavalli have become increasingly popular. Some of their contemporaries, such as Dario Castello, Biagio Marini and Giovanni Battista Fontana, frequently appear in the concert programmes and CD recordings of instrumental ensembles. The present disc includes music by a lesser-known master, Giovanni Antonio Rigatti, who is of the same generation as Cavalli.

Rigatti was born in Venice, became a choirboy at St Mark's in 1621 and was educated for a career in the church. From 1635 to 1637 he acted as maestro di cappella of Udine Cathedral. His salary was twice that of his predecessor, which says something about his status. In 1639 he started teaching at the Ospedale dei Mendicanti and later also the Ospedale degli Incurabili. At the end of his life he became sottocanonico of St Mark's, but he died only after about fifteen months in office.

Rigatti published two collections of secular music, in 1636 and 1641 respectively. However, the largest part of his output comprises sacred music. In 1634 he published a collection of motets, which was followed by eight further editions; in addition compositions from his pen were included in anthologies. Most of his compositions include obbligato parts for instruments. A large part of his sacred oeuvre can be performed in various scorings, from a small group of voices and instruments to a large ensemble with a ripieno choir and additional instruments. The music performed on the present disc is a good example.

Three collections of masses and psalms by Rigatti were published between 1640 and 1648. The first is generally considered his most important contribution to sacred music; the scoring varies from three to eight voices, with two violins and other instruments ad libitum. In the two other collections, Rigatti reduces the number of voices. The music on this disc is taken from the second collection, Messa e salmi ariosi a tre voci concertati, which was orginally printed in 1641/42, but has only been preserved in a reprint of 1643. The fact that it was again reprinted in 1657 indicates that it was held in high esteem. Many collections of liturgical music included pieces for large scorings, which made them rather unpractical for smaller churches and chapels. The charm of this collection is the small number of voices needed. However, larger institutions could use them too, as a four-voice ripieno choir may be added. Moreover, performers were free to add instruments to play colla voce. For this performance, the interpreters have chosen to confine themselves to solo voices, with cornetts and sackbuts taking part in some pieces.

There are plenty recordings with Italian sacred music from Rigatti's time, but often it is performed in the form of a concert. Here the performers have put together a Vesper service as it might have taken place in the composer's time. The backbone of the service is the plainchant: the antiphons are part of the Commune Festorum Beatae Mariae. The chants are taken from the collection Antiphonale synopticum at Regensburg University. Rigatti is represented with the five Vesper psalms and the Magnificat. The service ends with two further pieces from his pen: Salve Regina and Plaudite manibus are taken from his first printed edition of sacred music, the Primo parto de motetti con alcune cantilene of 1634. In a Vesper service, each psalm and the Magnificat were embraced by an antiphon. It was common practice to perform a motet or an instrumental piece as substitute for the repeat of an antiphon. That is the case here as well. The first psalm, Dixit Dominus, is preceded by the plainchant antiphon Dum esset rex and followed by the Sonata a 4 by Giovanni Battista Riccio. The third psalm, Laetatus sum, is preceded by the antiphon Nigra sum, whose text is taken from the first chapter of the Song of Solomon, and is followed by a setting of partly different verses from the same chapter by Adriano Banchieri.

Rigatti may be a lesser-known composer from the first half of the 17th century, the saame goes for some other composers represented here, such as Carlo Milanuzzi, Francesco Usper and Gioanpietro Del Buono. The latter's Ave maris stella is an alternatim composition: the odd verses are sung in plainchant; in the even verses the cantus firmus is performed vocally, whereas instruments add the counterpoint. Notable is the sixth verse: "Keep our life all spotless, make our way secure till we find in Jesus joy for evermore", where the instrumental parts include chromaticism and strong dissonances.

Rigatti, in his psalms and his Magnificat, does not miss opportunities to illustrate the text. As so many composers of his time and of later generations, he explores the dramatic passages in Dixit Dominus ("He will destroy the leaders far and wide") and in Nisi Dominus ("As arrows in the hand of the mighty, so the children of them that have been shaken"). In Laetatus sum the words "fiat pax" (Let peace be) are singled out. In the Magnificat the verses about the fate of the mighty and the hungry are given special attention. His pieces are written in the monodic style, and require a declamatory approach from the performers.

One of the assets of this recording is that the singers fully command the speech-like way of singing that this music asks for. Massimo Altieri, Massimo Lombardi (tenor) and Guglielmo Buonsanti (bass) have very fine voices which are perfectly suitable for this kind of repertoire. Their diction and articulation is very good, which is a precondition for a performance that does justice to the psalms and motets of this time. The expressive passages are not lost on them. The instrumentalists deliver excellent performances, both in the vocal items and in the separate instrumental works. The plainchant is nicely sung by the soloists.

Overall, this disc makes a lasting impression, thanks to the fine music, most of which is hardly known, the liturgical setting and the outstanding performances.

Johan van Veen

[Introitus] Andrea GABRIELI (c1533-1585)
Intonazione del 6° tono [1:42]
[Versiculum] plainchant
Deus in adiutorium [0:11]
[Responsorium] Carlo MILANUZZI (1590/92-c1647)
Domine ad adiuvandum [2:00]
[Antiphona I] plainchant
Dum esset rex [0:29]
[Psalmus I] Giovanni Antonio RIGATTI
Dixit Dominus [5:18]
[In loco antiphonae] Giovanni Battista RICCIO (fl 1609-1621)
Sonata a 4 [4:33]
[Antiphona II] plainchant
Laeva eius [0:21]
[Psalmus II] Giovanni Antonio RIGATTI
Laudate pueri [5:29]
[In loco antiphonae] Serafino PATTA (fl 1606-1619)
Laeva eius [2:00]
[Antihphona III] plainchant
Nigra sum [0:28]
[Psalmus III] Giovanni Antonio RIGATTI
Laetatus sum [5:34]
[In loco antiphonae] Adriano BANCHIERI (1568-1634)
Nigra sum [2:59]
[Antiphona IV] plainchant
Iam hiems transiit [0:29]
[Psalmus IV] Giovanni Antonio RIGATTI
Nisi Dominus [3:40]
[In loco antiphonae] Francesco USPER (c1560-1641)
Ricercar VIII [3:35]
[Antiphona V] plainchant
Speciosa facta es [0:28]
[Psalmus V] Giovanni Antonio RIGATTI
Lauda Ierusalem [5:11]
[Antiphona V] plainchant
Speciosa facta es [0:28]
[Capitulum] plainchant
Ab initio [0:32]
[Hymnus] Gioanpietro DEL BUONO (?-c1647)
Ave maris stella [8:14]
[Versiculum & Responsorium] plainchant
Dignare me - Da mihi [0:30]
[Antiphona] plainchant
Beatam me dicent [0:29]
[Canticum] Giovanni Antonio RIGATTI
Magnificat [7:36]
[In loco antiphonae] Adriano BANCHIERI
Canzon l'Alcenagina sopra Vestiva i colli [2:47]
[Oratio] plainchant
Concede non famulos tuos [1:07]
[Versiculum] plainchant
Benedicamus Domino [0:32]
[Antiphona] Giovanni Antonio RIGATTI
Salve Regina [4:59]
[Recessio] Giovanni Antonio RIGATTI
Plaudite manibus [4:59]

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