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Under the direction of their associate conductor, Paul Agnew, Les Arts Florissants offer a disc of penitential choral music that is definitely more pleasure than pain. Domenico Scarlatti’s vivid extended setting of the Stabat Mater and Leonard Leo’s alternatim-style ‘Miserere mei Deus’are framed by shorter works from Lotti and Legrenzi. Th e latter’s ‘Quam amarum est Maria’ is the unexpected gem of the collection – a Monteverdian cantata-in-miniature for two sopranos and continuo, all swooning suspension sequences and artless ornamentation. While Leo’s rather solid lines offer little by way of dramatic opportunity, both the Scarlatti and Lotti’s two Crucifixus settings are masterpieces of word-setting. Swift matter-of-fact speeds and some wilfully straight tone (particularly from sopranos who often tend to be shrill in the upper register) dull their emotive edge, but this is nevertheless an efficiently dispatched collection of some of the eighteenth century’s most attractive sacred works.

Alexandra Coghlan Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2011 - ©Rhinegold Publishing