Texte paru dans: / Appeared in:


Fanfare Magazine: 44:1 (09-10/2020) 
Pour s'abonner / Subscription information
Les abonnés à Fanfare Magazine ont accès aux archives du magazine sur internet.
Subscribers to Fanfare Magazine have access to the archives of the magazine on the net.

Brilliant Classics

Code-barres / Barcode : 5028421959702


Outil de traduction ~ (Très approximatif)
Translator tool (Very approximate)

Reviewer: James V. Maiello

Alessandro Melani (1639–1703) was born and trained in Pistoia, a small Tuscan city with a surprisingly rich musical history. Melani’s father was the cathedral bell-ringer, and his brothers Atto and Jacopo were highly regarded, respectively, as a castrato and as a violinist-composer. After training and serving an apprenticeship in Pistoia, Alessandro followed the familiar path of working in smaller courts until moving to higher-profile positions in Rome, no doubt facilitated at least in part by the music-loving Pope Clement IX, also a Pistoiese.

Here, I Musici del Gran Principe offer the first complete recording of Melani’s third collection of concerted motets, 18 concerti spirituali for five voices, ripienists, and basso continuo. The 1682 collection is dedicated to Fernandino de’ Medici, Grand Prince of Tuscany, and the music reflects Florentine musical tastes, despite Melani’s employment in Rome. Recorded in the intimate, yet resonant, Cappella San Luca of the basilica Santissima Annunziata in Florence, the ensemble fills the space without sounding crowded; the venue seems a perfect choice for this repertoire. Although the music has clearly been well researched, the liner notes are relatively brief, and texts and translations are not supplied, which is a notable shortcoming.

Melani’s music is equally appropriate for public liturgy and private devotion, and the collection provides over two hours of music, likely written with Fernandino’s chapel in mind. Every one of the singers maintains a versatile career that runs the gamut from opera to music education, not just early music. This comes through in the recording as they all provide service as soloists or ripienists as needed. This is not to say that the singing is not appropriate, stylistically. Rather, the singers are versatile and flexible, deploying vibrato judiciously and breaking some of the more staid constraints of early music performance practice to add weight and drama tastefully. Bass Alessandro Ravasio, for example, shines in this repertoire, weaving nimble lines through the texture with a pleasing richness that is a reminder that he is also in demand for 19th-century operatic roles. Francesco Marchetti’s tenor is similarly robust, though it never overpowers. The soprano soloists are consistently fine, though Benedetta Corti stands out for the sweetness of her tone and for her sensitivity, especially when paired with Margherita Tani.

The continuo ensemble provides both a solid foundation for the singers and nuanced, natural embellishments. Using a contrabass to augment the bass line is completely in line with Italian performance practice of the period, and it adds ballast to a lineup that might otherwise be overbalance toward the treble. Using plucked strings in addition to organ and harpsichord allows for a kaleidoscope of sounds from the ensemble. Keyboardist Anna Clemente’s name keeps coming onto my radar, and it is easy to see why given her and stylish continuo realizations here. Samuele Lastrucci deserves praise not only for his intelligent interpretations and unobtrusive direction, but also for bringing together a team that clearly works well together. I Musici del Gran Principe is relatively new to the early music scene, founded in 2017. They are representative of a flowering of new ensembles populated by young musicians. Their success and the success of this recording are encouraging bellwethers for the future of early music.


Sélectionnez votre pays et votre devise en accédant au site de
Presto Classical
(Bouton en haut à droite)

Pour acheter l'album
ou le télécharger

To purchase the CD
or to download it

Choose your country and curency
when reaching
Presto Classical
(Upper right corner of the page)


Cliquez l'un ou l'autre bouton pour découvrir bien d'autres critiques de CD
 Click either button for many other reviews