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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Bartlomiej Pekiel, The Sixteen

It has been said of some artists that they could sing the phone book (for those of you who remember what that is) and still sound great. I have no doubt that the early music ensemble The Sixteen could do that. But there is so much else to perform that's worth hearing, why would they?

Today's CD is a good example. It is the music of Bartlomiej Pekiel (1633-70) (CORO 16110), a Polish baroque master who is virtually unknown over here in the States, and in the hands of The Sixteen comes through with all the charm and grace inherent in his music. The Sixteen under Eamonn Dougan give us authentic period performances with a flourish.

Essentially the program consists of two mass settings, the brief "Missa a14," and the extended "Missa Concertata 'La Lombardesca,'" plus a number of shorter choral works. Some are acapella, some include accompanying instruments, all are movingly well wrought.

I do recognize an adaptation of an old English carol (or vice versa); otherwise this is very much new music to me. It is beautifully performed, and I promise you that Pekiel is infinity more interesting than a performance of the phone book. In fact he is masterful.

Composers of the Polish baroque? Here is one of the very best of the lot. And that is an excellent thing.

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