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Jan Baptist VERRIJT
Flammae divinae

The Consort of Music/Anthony Rooley
NM Classics 92076
[62.40] (PGW)
NM Classics

Jan Baptist VERRIJT (c.1600-1650) and Sweelinck were the most popular Dutch composers of the 17th Century. Little of Verrijt's music has survived apart from his Op. 5, published in the late 1640s, comprising two settings of the Mass and these 18 two- and three-part motets. They are gems, music of the highest order, combining the older Franco-Flemish polyphony with the Italian stile concertato , which had so swept Europe that Northern composers of the time adopted Italian names (Couperin became an overnight success as Francesco Coperuni!). Like Monteverdi, Verrijt heightens the effect of this church music with operatic techniques, such as the sharp dissonance in the poignant cries of despair in Fili, Ego Salomon.

Few musicians have explored hidden masterworks of their chosen periods so indefatigably as lutenist and scholar Anthony Rooley, who has with the fine singers of his much-loved The Consort of Music brought back alive so much wonderful music hitherto relegated to library shelves. These motets are all brief, the longest five minutes, and are displayed to fine advantage here, the solo voice parts distributed amongst the six well known British singers, accompanied discreetly on a small chamber organ by Steven Devine. The style is intimate and the singers never force their tone, so it is ideal for home listening. The project, culminating in this CD, resulted from an invitation to The Consort of Music to study the Opus 5 of Verrijt and perform it in Rotterdam, at what proved to be a memorable concert in May 2000.

The recording, made in Rotterdam's de Doelen concert hall, renowned for its sympathetic acoustics and suitability for ancient music, is exemplary and supported by full and extremely interesting background notes. My only small regret is that there is no track-by-track listing of the individual participants, viz. Emma Kirkby & Evelyn Tubb (sopranos) Joseph Cornwell & Andrew King (tenors) Lucy Ballard (alto) & Simon Grant (bass).

Peter Grahame Woolf

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