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This meditation by Federico Perotti (b.1993) on the life of St Franca – who in 1182 lefther wealthy family at the age of seven to enter a Benedictine convent – is a dramatic oratorio that with infinite subtlety blends together notions of time and eternity (both musical and spiritual). Mixing 12th-century materials with a 17th-century hagiography by Pier Maria Campi gives the work a literally timeless quality, reflected in its notably free metres and hanging harmonies. The young nun’s voice is shadowed and prefigured by flute and harp, her dogged adherence to the Benedictine Rule underscored by tough scorings and percussive effects. Rarely has music of such spiritual intensity sounded so earthy and quotidian in its urgencies. Choir and soloists, particularly Carlotta Colombo, handle difficult parts with the naturalness of speech. An intensive, immersive experience rather than a concert piece and as such, ideally suited to CD and home listening.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica

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