Armonico Consort’s latest recording is a rediscovery of two brilliant choral masterpieces by a forgotten Baroque composer, Francesco Scarlatti, in brand-new authoritative editions by Dr Geoffrey Webber.
Artistic Director Christopher Monks directs the composer’s Dixit Dominus and Messa a 16, for singers and five-part instrumental ensemble, in the first professional recording of the works, on Signum Classics (SIGCD740).
The most spectacular classical music find of the century
For the new editions, Dr Geoffrey Webber has returned to the autograph scores of both works which have lain in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, since the 18th century.
This is something quite out of the ordinary … this extraordinarily successful release has a musical significance of the highest order … The performances throughout betoken both care in preparation and total commitment in the realisation of these neglected masterworks by a sadly far-too-unknown figure. … a shining example of what the gramophone can achieve. (The Organ)
Christopher Monks describes these works as “the most spectacular classical music find of the century. 16 voices are divided into four choirs which engage in all sorts of vocal acrobatics. The writing is totally awesome and like nothing else heard before from any choral composer.”
The sparkling setting of Dixit Dominus features dramatic word-painting and lavish use of a high trumpet: this performance is full of energy (Choir & Organ)
The performances are strong, superbly shaped by Monks, and played and sung, one voice to a part, with great precision … It’s most enjoyable and highly recommended (Gramophone)
Overshadowed by his elder brother, Alessandro, and nephew Domenico, Francesco Scarlatti (1666-c1741) was part of a wider dynasty, and most of his brothers and sisters were professional singers, instrumentalists and composers. Born in Palermo, Sicily, he followed Alessandro to Naples where he led the court orchestra for seven years before returning to Sicily for over two decades. The Dixit Dominus and the Messa date to 1702 and 1703 while he was living in Palermo. Afterwards, he moved to London and then to Dublin where he died in obscurity.
Francesco Scarlatti draws inspiration from the colossal polychoral compositions of Baroque Venice to Tallis’s 40-part Spem in Alium but his works are totally unique and not to be missed!
The gleaming quartet of sopranos – Eloise Irving, Elizabeth Drury, Hannah Fraser-Mackenzie and Laura Moretto – make a particularly vivid impression in the ‘Gratias’, while Kelly McCusker’s violin solos are a constant delight … If you don’t yet know the name of Francesco Scarlatti, do try to hear this disc. (Europadisc)
Armonico Consort will tour The Forgotten Scarlatti from October 2023 to summer 2024 in the UK and abroad. An associated education project will see a newly composed ‘Part 17’ taught to large numbers of children to perform alongside the professional singers.
Armonico Consort’s recording of Francesco Scarlatti’s Dixit Dominus and Messa a 16 is available on Signum Classics (SIGCD740).