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Thursday, March 7, 2019

Orazio Colombano, Psalms for Six Voices, Cappella Musicale Della Cattedrale Di Vercelli, Denis Silano

The musical ages can pass between your ears as long as you live, providing you cast a wide net and listen to music that produces the sounds of earlier times along with more recent fare. After yesterday's new music in response to Schutz, today's fine disk of Psalms for Six Voices (Brilliant 95839) seems fitting and welcome. Denis Silano and Cappella Musicale Della Cattedrale di Vercelli guide us through the 16 Latin psalm settings in ideal ways. The voices are strong and nuanced; the music reminds us perhaps of Gesualdo without the dissonances.

Orazio Colombano lived around 1554 through sometime after 1595. After studying the musical arts with one Costanzo Porta, he came to the Vercelli Cathedral to direct the church music of the somewhat modest group of vocalists and instrumentalists in 1579. The Psalms was his first work, a setting of the Psalms of the Vespers liturgy which at the time was to be sung for all obligatory feast days, preceding the Magnificat. The work is elaborately antiphonal, contrapuntally complex and masterfully wrought. The music was printed in Venice in the year it was written and so it has come down to us.

The performances are richly flowing and expressive with a cathedral-space headroom that sounds quite good on playback through my rudimentary system. The music may not be well known but has a youthful vitality yet a depth that bears up well in successive hearings. Happily recommended.

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