Penguin Guide Rosette Winners
Ildebrando Pizzetti (1880-1968)
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Martin: Mass for Double Choir
“These are magnificent performances.
Written in 1922, the Agnus Dei being added four years later, the Mass is one of Martin's most sublime compositions. Surprisingly it gains enormously from using boys' rather than female voices. It's a measure of James O'Donnell's achievement with Westminster Cathedral Choir that the gain in purity and beauty is never at the expense of depth and fervour.
This is an altogether moving and eloquent performance, often quite thrilling and always satisfying.
This disc brings us a fine performance by O'Donnell of the Passacaille and the Pizzetti Messa di Requiem, also composed in 1922. The received wisdom is that it is in his a cappella music that Pizzetti is at his finest; in his 1951 monograph Guido Gatti spoke of his setting as 'the most serene and lyrical of all... from Mozart's to Gabriel Faure's'. Serene and lyrical it most certainly is, and it will come as a revelation to those encountering it for the first time.
There is a fervour and a conviction about the Westminster performances of both the Requiem and the 1937 De profundis. The luminous tone this choir produce in both these inspired and masterly works will ring in your ears long after you have finished playing this splendidly recorded disc.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“For connoisseurs of choral music this is an essential buy. Outstanding performances of two rarely heard 20th-century masterpieces.” Classic CD
“The Mass for Double Choir is one of Martin's purest and most sublime utterances. The version from the Westminster Cathedral Choir under James O'Donnell is the most outstanding. The boys produce marvellously focused tone of great purity and expressive power.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition
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Ruggero Raimondi, Paoletta Marrocu
Orchestra Sinfonica della provincia di Bari, Piergiorgio Morandi
First-ever film recording of Pizzetti’s operatic version of TS Eliot’s play, ‘Murder in the Cathedral’, telling the story of Thomas Becket’s murder by the knights of Henry II. Starring the world-renowned Ruggero Raimondi as the doomed archbishop.
The only large-scale work to have survived by Pizzetti, this piece of This sacred drama is a rare curiosity telling the black and gory tale of the murder of Thomas Becket.
Filmed as a staged performance in the spectacular Basilica di San Nicola in Bari, this is the only film version available, making this a must for all opera afficionados wanting something a little different!
“Decca's DVD is to be welcomed in this 40th anniversary year of Pizzetti's death, a reminder of his creative genius. Visually, the production is simple but effective. The sound is well balanced, the basilican acoustic suiting the music, and the performances all round are excellent.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2008
“Assassinio nella cattedrale has been absurdly neglected on the stage (as indeed has Pizzetti generally) but this superbly paced and intensely felt reading brings home the beauty and nobility of this score. Recommended with enthusiasm.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition
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