Francesco Bartolomeo Conti, Pursell Choir, Orfeo Orchestra, Gyorgy Vashegyi - Missa Sancti Pauli

Published Monday 10th December 2018
Francesco Bartolomeo Conti, Pursell Choir, Orfeo Orchestra, Gyorgy Vashegyi - Missa Sancti Pauli
Francesco Bartolomeo Conti, Pursell Choir, Orfeo Orchestra, Gyorgy Vashegyi - Missa Sancti Pauli

STYLE: Choral
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
LABEL: Glossa GCD924004

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

Francesco Bartolomeo Conti (c 1681-1732) was a talented man. He was a professional theorbist and could also play the mandolin to a high standard. Not only that, he was a prolific composer of both sacred and secular material whose work was noticed by Bach, Handel and Zelenka. There is a case to be made for Conti wanting to be remembered as a writer of opera but it was his church music that remained in the repertoire. Now, for the first time, his large scale mass in G minor in honour of St Paul is committed to disc. The Purcell Choir shines and are supplemented by some excellent soloists in Adriana Kalafzsky (soprano), Peter Barany (countertenor), Zoltan Megyesi (tenor) and Thomas Dolie (bass). The orchestration is mainly for strings, here played by the members of the Orfeo Orchestra, and to round of the collection we are given two additional works by Conti with his motet "Fastos Caeli Audite" ("Hear The Heavenly Feasts") featuring the bass Barany and the aria "Pie Jesus, Ad Te Refugio" ("Merciful Jesus, Unto You As My Refuge") with the soprano Kalafzsky. The recording was made under conductor Gyorgy Vashegyi at the Grand Hall of the Lizst Academy of Music in Budapest. Not coming from a tradition that ever has a mass within our worship I approached this release merely as entertainment and found it to be a pleasant and well performed listen. Reading the helpful notes by Anna Scholz I found Conti to have been quite a character and was interested to discover more of his place in the development of western music. Conti was starting to anticipate the transition from what we call Baroque to classical and the fact that no less a man than Johann Sebastian Bach took the trouble to copy (by hand, remember) and almost certainly to perform one of Conti's compositions surely tells us that this is someone worth hearing. True, in terms of his musical stature Conti is no Handel or Bach but is perhaps worthy of standing alongside Zelenka in the second rank of European composers. Listeners who enjoy the works of these better known giants may well find this release an interesting supplement and all who appreciate good choral singing will enjoy what is on offer.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

Interested in reviewing music? Find out more here.

Be the first to comment on this article

We welcome your opinions but libellous and abusive comments are not allowed.

We are committed to protecting your privacy. By clicking 'Send comment' you consent to Cross Rhythms storing and processing your personal data. For more information about how we care for your data please see our privacy policy.