Viadana: Officium Defunctorum, Missa Pro Defunctis / Columbro, Et Al

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VIADANA Officium defunctorum. Missa pro defunctis Giovanni Battista Columbro, cond; Capella Musicale di Viadana; Vocale Consortium TACTUS 562201 (69:35 Text and Translation)

Ludovico Grossi da Viadana (c. 1560–1627) is surnamed, like Palestrina, from his place of birth, while Giovanni Moro da Viadana may be found under M (according to The New Grove , although record catalogs differ). Until now I had no full disc of his music, though several can be found in Italian catalogs, including a solemn Requiem on Stradivarius back in 1995 that may be the same as this music, since both works are dated 1604. We are told by the conductor, who wrote the notes, that he “is nowadays considered to be one of the greatest composers of all times,” though little of detail is known about his life. He was a Franciscan friar who served as maestro at cathedrals in Mantua (from 1594 to 1609) and several other cities. He is called “the inventor of the basso continuo ,” but that notion, which originated in Germany among scholars who relied on Italian writers, has long since been set aside.

Although the headnote reflects the booklet cover in identifying two works on the program, it would be more correct to describe this as an Office of the Dead consisting of the invitatory and three psalms (with their antiphons) for the first nocturn of Matins, seven movements for the Mass of the Dead, and the responsory Libera me Domine for the burial rite. Since I can’t find the earlier disc for comparison, it’s not clear whether this is all the music that was published. Oddly enough, the responsory Libera me Domine is sung entirely in chant, the same as the one found in modern chant books, raising the question of why it is listed as Viadana’s work. The three psalms of Matins and the Dies irae alternate between polyphony and chant.

The singers are accompanied by a small instrumental group consisting of three brass, three violins, and two organs. They make quite a big sound, not suggestive of the basso continuo for which Viadana is famous. In the fashion adopted by Columbro the performance is convincing, the singers and players highly accomplished. We may be getting more of this music from the same source, since Columbro directs an annual festival. This may make the great composer better known.

FANFARE: J. F. Weber

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: TC562201

  • UPC: 8007194104110

  • Label: Tactus

  • Composer: Lodovico da Viadana

  • Conductor: Giovanni B. Columbra

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Capella Musicale Di Viadana, Vocale Consortium