- Dixit Dominus for soloists, chorus & orchestra
- Laudate pueri (Psalm 112), for 4 voices & orchestra
- Credidi (Psalm 115), for choir & orchestra
- Laudate Dominum (Psalm 116), for voice, choir & orchestra
The conventional wisdom about Venetian Antonio Lotti, composer of the a cappella masterwork "Crucifixus," is that as a card-carrying member of the stil antico he represented a conservative viewpoint akin to that of his later contemporary Leonardo Leo -- the fewer instruments the better, the closer to the polyphonic language of Palestrina the better. Moreover, if the "Crucifixus" was the only work of Lotti that someone became acquainted with, then he/she could not be blamed for believing this was so, although he/she might note the distinct Baroque harmonic coloring of the piece as being rather unlike that of Palestrina. Here is a challenge for you -- CPO's Antonio Lotti: Vesper Psalms performed by the Sächsisches Vocalensemble and Batzdorfer Hofkapelle under Matthias Jung. It presents a selection of Lotti's surviving concerted sacred choral works, pieces that are scored with a small Baroque orchestra and easily comparable to contemporary music by Handel, Johann Sebastian Bach, and his direct competitor Antonio Vivaldi. Careful scrutiny of the poorly compiled worklist for Lotti in Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians reveals that some of these pieces are so listed, but with no mention whatsoever of the instrumental forces involved; they are identified as a cappella works just like the others. One wonders to the extent of Grove's oversight in this matter. Some parts of these works are as luscious and moving as similar passages in Bach or Handel ("Donec ponam" from "Dixit Dominus"), or as stirring and experimental sounding as Vivaldi ("Juvarit Dominus" from "Dixit Dominus"). There is also a lovely, sneaky, and hushed opening to the "Credidi" that was, in the eighteenth century, a famous work revived for generations after Lotti's death. Additionally, there are parts that are less remarkable; the recording is well made, but a little shrill and shallow in spots. Soprano Barbara Christina Steude is the standout among the frontline vocalists, but even she is a little bogged down in the "Laudate pueri," which appears to be the least-inspired creation on the program. The "Dixit" and "Credidi," though, are splendid and belong in the collection of any true connoisseurs of Baroque sacred music. The Batzdorfer Hofkapelle is an interesting period band, being the house band at Batzdorfer Castle outside Dresden, and the Jung's chorus is excellent throughout. While it is not without certain flaws, CPO's Antonio Lotti: Vesper Psalms successfully puts conventional wisdom to the test -- were we to perform Lotti's music in the configuration intended, with voices and instruments together, perhaps it might come across as being a little less "antico" as the experts would have us believe it is.