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Scarlatti Motets

#alttext# Il Seminario Musicale has existed, evidently, since 1985 (!). The most consistent thing about them has been their singer, Gérard Lesne, a French countertenor. Other notable members have included Fabio Biondi (the lead violinist in this recording), and Bruno Cocset (violin, cello). Their current website features some video clips and more biographical information, including the current group of instrumentalists. I have several of their recordings, especially from the group published by Virgin Veritas in the 1990s. This recording is from the collection, The violin playing is lively, with Biondi at the helm, and this is a great introduction to Lesne's voice - he has a relaxed style. His voice isn't forced, nor does it sound "operatic" or like a soprano. His voice has instead a signature sound that's gentle yet versatile in terms of color and nuance. There is more depth to his sound than that of Andreas Scholl or Phillippe Juroussky, two other well-known countertenors. Both of the latter probably have more power on the operatic stage, but if I had to choose, I might go with Lesne as an all-around favorite. This recording features 4 works, the most famous being Infarmata, Vulnerata. Compared to other recordings, I prefer Lesne's reading, although his tempi sometimes dictate longer track times. The music of Scarlatti (the father) is in a nice place, stylistically for me - it lacks the modern Iberian flavor of his son, the furious writer of harpsichord sonatas. Father Alessandro was more of a writer in the vein of Corelli, but his works are far-more heavily weighted for those scored with voices. His style might be described half-way between Corelli and the Venetian, Vivaldi. Clearly, good classic Italian baroque. The Salve Regina takes some of the tempi a tad slow for me; the opening movement, for one, could simply go more quickly in my taste. But the two singers (Lesne with soprano Veronique Gens) is a very nice match in vocal style. What the Salve lacks in swift harmonic progression is made up for, in the last work, Totus Amore Languens. If you're new to Il Seminario Musicale, this recording doesn't feature masterworks, but instead some solid performances from Gérard Lesne and the instrumentalists from his own ensemble. Along with his Bach album featuring works by the early Bachs, this is among my two favorite recordings. It's also a good introduction of Alessandro Scarlatti's motet genre, here in works for both soloist and duet.

Bach - Art of Fugue - Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin

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