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I believe that certain performers deserve priority, when I’m
listening to certain music genres. When it comes to Baroque
music, conductor and harpsichordist, Rinaldo Alessandrini
(1960- ), is a case in point. Whether it’s his recordings of
madrigals by Monteverdi, Vivaldi’s operas, or in this case,
vocal music by Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725), Maestro
Alessandrini has a track record which can’t be beat. He also
has the awards to show for it.

Only five singers are used on “Scarlatti: Magnificat; Dixit
Dominus,”
and the accompanists are limited to either the
organ, harpsichord or the occasional chitarrone, which is the
largest of lute instruments. Therefore, this disc could be
described as consisting of “vocal chamber music.”

Maestro Alessandrini composed the liner notes for this CD,
and stated that Scarlatti had a “nonprogressive,”
compositional style, refraining from innovation and embracing
“old-fashioned” methods. This attitude was similar to that of
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) who also worked with
established forms, and took them to unheard of artistic
heights. One example would be Scarlatti’s use of modal harmony
in the pieces on this disc, which is reminiscent of early 17th
Century compositional practices.

The performers here are “top-notch.” Considering the
virtuosity required by these highly contrapuntal works, Scarlatti
must have had excellent performers in mind, when he composed
them. Here, sopranos Anna Simboli and Elisabetta Tiso are
joined by alto Paolo Costa, tenor Gianluca Ferrarini, and bass
Sergio Foresti. The virtuoso instrumentalists featured are
Ignazio Schifani on the organ and cembalo, and Eduardo
Eguez on the chitarrone.

It’s too bad that the dates of these Alessandro Scarlatti
compositions weren’t provided, because that information
would have enabled us to place his music within the proper
historical perspective. It could be that no one can
authenticate the dates. After consulting other sources,
I referred to the Da Capo Catalog of Classical Music
Compositions (Da Capo Press, New York 1996),
but it didn’t list these dates either!

Regardless, kudos should be given to Maestro Alessandrini for
unearthing and performing this rare music, with such high
standards. “Scarlatti: Magnificat; Dixit Dominus,”  is also
beautifully recorded, and deserves an “A.”

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