Passion & Lament - Choral Masterworks Of The 17th Century
Passion and Lament: Choral Masterworks of the 17th Century is a Dorian Sono Luminus release by the Bach Sinfonia, a period instrument group led by Daniel Abraham and based out of Silver Spring, MD; the concurrent vocal group is identified by the rubric Sinfonia Voci. Leader Abraham seems to have an uncanny knack for landing the premiere recording options on newly discovered works by famous composers; the previous Dorian Sono Luminus effort devoted to Handel's Alexander's Feast also contained the J.S. Bach aria Alles mit Gott und nichts ohn' ihn, discovered in 2005. Here the featured first recording is of a work by Heinrich von Biber, his setting of the Stabat mater that emerged in 2007. It is a short, somber, and restrained setting from late in Biber's career, not the most ravishing vocal work that he has to offer but still recognizable as his. Along for the ride is a selection of six Psalm settings from Salomone Rossi's The Songs of Solomon and the early oratorio Jephte by Giacomo Carissimi. The good news is that the Rossi settings, recorded without continuo, probably have never received a better performance on disc than here. Jephte, of course, is a canonical classical work and the Bach Sinfonia has a good deal more competition in it among recordings. The performance here is well done, and the crucial concluding chorus Plorate filii Israel is very well handled and particularly effective, though one wonders if a slightly larger continuo might not have been a bad idea for Jephte; the Bach Sinfonia here consists of only five instruments and normally they are a 22-piece band. The singing is all quite good; soprano Jennifer Ellis Kampani turns in her usual, stellar performance and one must compliment baritone Sumner Thompson for being a low male voice who "gets" concitato singing. Dorian Sono Luminus' recording is a very digital-sounding recording that has a slightly weird, metallic timbre; at one point it pulls a soprano note into a range of distortion. Nevertheless, Biber's devotees will want to know the new work, even though the true virtues of this disc are encountered best in the Rossi and in parts of the Carissimi.
-- "Uncle" Dave Lewis, All Music Guide
Composer: Giacomo Carissimi, Heinrich Ignaz Biber, Salomone Rossi
Conductor: Daniel Abraham
Orchestra/Ensemble: Bach Sinfonia
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