New CD by the Choir of the Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel Choir under its director Monsignor Massimo Palombella has just released a second CD recording with Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft. (Report of the press conference at http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2016/10/07/161007c.html).
It is devoted to the music of Palestrina and includes the famous six-voice Missa Papae Marcelli, the only work that Palestrina dedicated to a pope, credited with “saving polyphony” by making the text intelligible to the listener (the Council of Trent had condemned polyphony that obscured the meaning of the text). Additionally there are motets on the theme of mercy designed to complement the Holy Year.

It is not widely known that Monsignor Palombella is something of a Palestrina scholar, having carried out a lot of research into his works; so it will be interesting to hear how this is borne out in the recording. Also interesting to hear will be the manner of singing by the choir, which has already changed radically from the “bawling in the basilica”-style formerly associated with the Sistina. This new CD was, uniquely, recorded in the Sistine Chapel itself, which demands a rather more intimate style of vocal production suited to the acoustic of a much smaller building. The Sistine Chapel was chosen for the recording since it is the locale where papal celebrations took place in the time of Palestrina, the basilica of St Peter’s having not yet been completed.

9 comments

  1. And the album ends with a recording of “Misericordes Sicut Pater” composed by Paul Inwood.

    The Editors’ Notes say that three tracks are world premieres of compositions found in the Vatican Library. I wonder which three those might be.

    1. @Michael Wurtz, CSC:

      And the album ends with a recording of “Misericordes Sicut Pater” composed by Paul Inwood.

      Are you sure? Amazon lists the tracks as follows:

      1. Kyrie
      2. Gloria
      3. Credo
      4. Sanctus
      5. Agnus Dei
      6. Tu Es Pastor Ovium
      7. O Bone Iesu
      8. Confitemini Domino
      9. Ad Te Levavi Oculos Meos
      10. Benedixisti, Domine
      11. Veritas Mea Et Misericordia Mea
      12. Iubilate Deo
      13. Confirma Hoc, Deus
      14. Ave Maria

      1. @Michael Wurtz, CSC:

        I suspect that the iTunes playlist may not represent exacty what is on the CD, which eBay also lists with only 14 tracks. And the 3:46 track duration is only half the 7:40 length of the entire hymn with choral coda.

        But in any case I have ordered a copy of the CD because it will make interesting listening.

  2. The CD has now arrived, and there are indeed only 14 Palestrina tracks — iTunes is therefore selling its track 15 under false pretences. The presentation of the CD, as you would expect from DGG, is magnificent.

    @Doug O’Neill

    Not impressed by the article at your link. Agazzari was not only a remarkable composer in his own right (though his works mostly languish unread and unheard in the Vatican libraries), but he knew Palestrina personally. No reason on earth why he would have made up the “legend”. The DGG liner notes and footnotes agree.

    Now to settle down and listen to the music!

    The world premiere recordings are tracks 6, 8 (with adult male voices only) and 11.

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