The award-winning ensemble ArtChoral continues its exploration of the choral repertoire with this new opus, adding to the ambitious project of its conductor and artistic director Matthias Maute to build a discography covering the essentials of the choral repertoire through the ages, from the Renaissance to the present day. After its last opus devoted to the late Baroque, the ensemble now tackles the classical repertoire of the 18th century. Once again, the strength of Maute’s artistic direction is discovery through a familiar prism. In addition to familiar names such as Mozart and Joseph Haydn, he introduces us to the music of Johann Michael Haydn, the latter’s younger brother, Quirinio Gasparini, a choirmaster from Turin, and Gottlob Benedict Bierey, a contemporary of Beethoven, who essentially made his career as a theatre director. Divided into two parts, dedicated to sacred and secular music respectively, the pieces offer a wide range of dynamics and subject matter. Bierey’s 4-voice Kyrie, an arrangement of the first movement of the Piano Sonata in C sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 2, known as “Moonlight”, is a particular highlight. Mozart’s qualities as a melodist and sound architect are illustrated in the motet Sancta Maria, mater Dei and the celebrated Ave verum corpus. It’s in the lighter, more lively secular pieces, mostly composed by Joseph Haydn, that the ensemble’s dynamism and versatility shine through. Known as a bon vivant, Haydn let his playful, sensitive character shine through in inspired, almost theatrical pieces. The Die Beredsamkeit quartet and the Betrachtung des Todes trio are the most telling examples.
The ensemble is accompanied by pianist Ilya Poletaev on a pianoforte, a standard instrument of the time, and performs the vocal works with German Latin pronunciation, adding a historically informed interpretive lustre to this finely constructed and executed album that enhances its brilliance.