For his latest Glossa CD with Graindelavoix, Björn Schmelzer takes his lead from the funeral rites for the Flemish Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens in 1640 – which might well have encompassed the Requiem Mass by Orazio Vecchi as recorded here – to demonstrate the coexistence in Baroque Antwerp of two apparently contradictory, but interconnected facets. One of these facets was the continuing presence of prima prattica polyphony; the city was a major centre for music printing and Vecchi’s Requiem was brought out there – as were works by other composers represented on this disc: George de La Hèle, Duarte Lobo and Pedro Ruimonte (the recording ends with three successive Agnus Deis!).
The other facet is that of the image of Rubens’s art: full of energy, seductive, optimistic and scintillating.The Northern Baroque par excellence.With his recording, intriguing booklet essay (about the “Baroque in disguise”) and selection of pictorial images, Schmelzer encourages the listener/reader to enter into this strange world of artistic clashes and ruptures – not least the fact that Vecchi, a composer better known for his secular music popular in Venice, would have had his stile antico sacred music performed in Antwerp. This is achieved with Graindelavoix’s customary uncompromising –and clearly provocative – vocal sound, complete with both artfully-executed ornamentations and attention to ensemble needs.
A complementary, digital-only release is Music for an Antwerp Church, the soundtrack for the exhibition Divine Interiors (Antwerp, 2016). This production partially contains audio material which is also included on Orazio Vecchi: Requiem, available both physically and digitally, but contains mostly works not available elsewhere.
photos © Koen Broos