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Benedetto Marcello: Salmi

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About this title: Benedetto Marcello of Venice, who was both a composer and a lawyer, was a contemporary of Vivaldi and remained popular well into the 19th century. The brother of Alessandro Marcello, he remains best known for a set of 50 psalm settings ( salmi in Italian) composed in the mid-1720s; four of them are presented on this 2003 recording, along with a three-movement organ sonata. These psalms are rather curious works. For one thing, they are in Italian, not Latin; Marcello employed a paraphrase by poet Girolamo Giustiniani. Annotator Marco Bizzarini hastens to assure the buyer that this was not "a case of coming closer to the positions of the Protestant churches ... nor even less a surprising anticipation of the liturgical reform accomplished in Catholicism after the Second Vatican Council"; instead, he says, it was a kind of scholarly experiment. They are fairly sizable works, however, that proceed in stately alternations between a group of soloists and a choir, which Marcello seems to have conceived...

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