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Neopolitan composer Nicola Porpora was contemporary with Bach and Handel and became known throughout Europe, above all as an opera composer. That would not be hard to guess from much of the music of his 1744 Vespers. The music was first performed at the Ospedaletto, one of four Venetian orphanages for abandoned or orphaned girls. The Vespers, consisting of five psalms, a Magnificat and Salve Regina, is scored for female voices and strings. Porpora’s style leans towards the early classical and is ‘galant’ in its idiom. It is also very seductive, sometimes recalling that of his older Venetian contemporary, Vivaldi. This is especially so in the beautiful A major setting of Laudate pueri Dominum which in its scoring for two sopranos, choir and orchestra corresponds with Vivaldi’s setting in the same key. Performances are lively, but string playing is occasionally raw and alto Delphine Galou inclines towards intrusive portamentos. The music is well worth investigating, though.

Nicholas Anderson Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2012 - ©Rhinegold Publishing