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Briefly Noted: Chris Fitzgerald-Lombard

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Passiontide: Holy Week in the Courts of Europe, 1600-1745, C. Fitzgerald-Lombard, Apollo Baroque Consort,
J. Waggott

(released on June 12, 2012)
Convivium CR015 | 48'
The solo motet was one of the more important, and now less understood and known, genres of the the Baroque era, the sacred counterpart of the operatic aria. This little disc is a worthy debut for the recently formed ensemble known as the Apollo Baroque Consort, bringing together three longer works that are all mostly solo settings of important texts associated with Holy Week: the penitential psalm Miserere mei deus by Michel-Richard de Lalande (1657-1726); the sequence Stabat mater dolorosa, in the Pianto della Madonna by Giovanni-Felice Sances (1600-1679), last heard on a recording by Philippe Jaroussky; and a section of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, proper to Good Friday, by Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745). The composers' life spans cover most of the Baroque period and three different geographic and stylistic areas: the elegant and expressive French style, the more florid Italian, and the more polyphonic and complex German. The solo motet will work only with a beautiful voice that holds the ear, which this disc has in tenor Christopher Fitzgerald-Lombard, who founded Apollo Baroque Consort with Joe Waggott last year; Waggott ably provides most of the accompaniment on continuo organ (plus cello and theorbo), in keeping with the relatively simple style of the solo motet, sometimes in alternation with a small chorus. Only the Zelenka, the most complicated score by far, requires a larger, but still relatively small, consort of instruments. Minor technical blemishes (intonation, perhaps overdone French-inflected Latin in the Lalande) may limit my recommendation, but the combination of unusual repertoire and generally beautiful sound, recorded this past February at St. Alban the Martyr in Highgate, Birmingham, make for an accomplished debut.

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