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Reviewer :
Fabrice Fitch

It seems that Fiocco’s Lamentations have never before been presented in their entirety, but this recording adds recently discovered alternative settings of three of the nine settings, preserved anonymously in a Brussels manuscript and plausibly attributed to him. Fiocco’s settings are new to me, and my interest has deepened with repeated listening. He handles commonplaces such as ground basses and chromatic descending-fourth bass lines (staples of mourning music both) with sufficient charm that they don’t sound hackneyed, and his melodic invention is equal to two hours’ worth of music for fairly restricted forces. In most settings, the solo voice is joined by a cello, the instrument always a worthy foil for the voice; but sometimes (notably the first for Holy Thursday) he adds a second, deepening the game. Hot on the heels of the earlier Requiems by Steelant

(Pentatone, 11/22), this recording shows that in the Baroque period, modern-day Belgium was blessed with composers of real substance.

Ensemble Bonne Corde is compact and eloquently persuasive, the cellos lean and taut but lyrical, the continuo well realised and nourished. But perhaps inevitably, the attention focuses on the voices, in whose company one can happily spend a couple of hours – especially the two sopranos, who share the bulk of the music. Ana Vieira Leite and Ana Quintans are evenly matched and frequently superb, though the latter perhaps has the edge for fluency of ornament, precision of vocal gesture and her ability to extract flashes of drama from pathos; that said, Vieira Leite’s spun lines towards the end of the second Lamentation for Wednesday (at ‘Nun’) are very impressive. Though his tone is pleasingly restrained, Hugo Oliveira is not quite as sure-footed nor as compelling a presence vocally, but the anonymous settings entrusted to him stand comparison with the securely ascribed ones. Those familiar with the partial excerpts hitherto available will be pleased to have the whole cycle (and the unexpected bonuses) in these elegant, stylish readings, which can reasonably claim top billing.

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