Manfred Barbarini Lupus (ca 1560) was a popular composer during the mediaeval and Renaissance periods. The St. Gallen Monastery, for whom these works were composed, was one of the most influential in Europe at that time. Performing these works is the Ensemble Ordo Virtutum. The ensemble was founded by musicologist Professor Dr. Stefen Johannes Morent, and specializes in mediaeval music.
Theatrical chamber music might appear to be a contradiction in terms, but the unlikely idea is fulfilled by these sparkling, highly wrought trio sonatas. For despite their title, that is what they are: most composers of the 18th century may have used the sonata designation for this form, but Alessandro Stradella employed at least several of these works as preludes or overtures to his dramatic and sacred works such as the oratorio Susanna (already recorded on Brilliant Classics, BC94345).
The Concerto Grosso is a popular Baroque form, in which two instrumental groups complete against each other: a small group of soloists and the tutti of the orchestral group. It is the forerunner of the solo concerto form, which features only one solo instrument. This set present the complete Concerti Grossi by Pietro Antonio Locatelli, modelled on the popular concerti grossi of his teacher Corelli. The writing as might be expected from Locatelli the devil violinist, is highly virtuosic and brilliant, inventive in harmony and counterpoint, written to impress and entertain.
The brief opening piece for chorus on this new release, "Da Pacem Domine," is based on a 9th century Gregorian work and has the usual, familiar–and very beautiful–Pärt-ian characteristics: a soft, endless stream of easy tritones and harmonies that make this plea for peace immensely moving. The major work, Lamentate, is scored for large orchestra and solo piano–a very unusual combination for Pärt. Even his fans will be surprised. In ten brief sections, it begins with a quiet drum roll, immediately followed by horn calls. There are forte explosions for full orchestra and piano, with heavy percussion. At times the only thing we hear is a hushed piano part with strings supporting very quietly. The effect is dark yet alluring. It ends peacefully. This is another stunning CD of Pärt's music for his fans–old and new.