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GRAMOPHONE (04/2015)
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Reviewer: Fabrice Fitch


Polyphonic Requiems composed and published in Italy in the 17th century number in the hundreds, so it’s small wonder that the discography has only scratched the surface. The two included on this recording were both published in Sicily: Capuana’s in 1650 and Rubino’s in 1653. They are well contrasted. Capuana’s is the more concise and chordal, shunning all but the simplest forms of contrapuntal interplay. His use of dissonance, though simple, is judicious and genuinely affecting, his handling of metre nicely varied. In the ‘Dies irae’ his illustrations of the text are full of incident, the contrast between its sections well handled. Its flashes of drama carrying over into the fine Offertory. Rubino’s setting has the more intricate polyphony (though in fact both settings mix the old church style with the newer concerto idiom very fluently); his ‘Dies irae’, however, is more perfunctory than Capuana’s, the skipping rhythms of its refrain strangely glib.

 

The Namur Chamber Choir has been turning out focused, committed performances for many years and this is a welcome addition to its discography. The inclusion of a dulcian in the continuo does wonders for the overall sound. At times I could have done with more fire in their collective belly in the Capuana (especially from the lower voices), and one or two of the solo turns in the verses of his ‘Dies irae’ seem tentative. But these minor quibbles don’t apply in the Rubino, which is very well managed indeed, as well as being the finer of the two settings.


   

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