GIACOMO CARISSIMI (1605-1674)
Mottetti e Sacri Concerti
“As dusk descended we went to the Chiesa Nuova (...) and there we heard music so sweet that even if we had to go two thousand miles we would not have had to imagine that we had tired ourselves for nothing, if we could have been sure to be rewarded with nothing else but these melodious voices (…) The subject was by a Roman prince, the musical adaptation by Charissima, who is considered the finest in the world in that field, and (…) everyone produced such a sweet harmony that it could only be hoped for in Paradise or in Rome”. Francis Mortoft made this enthusiastic comment in the diary of his travels in 1659, and “Charissima” was, of course, Giacomo Carissimi (Born Marino 1605 – died Rome 1674), the four-hundredth anniversary of his birth it is this year. Carissimi was then at the very height of his career, most of which was lived in the shadow of the Jesuit German-Hungarian College attached to the church of S. Apollinare in Rome, in spite of enticing and prestigious offers, such as those to become maestro di cappella in St. Mark’s Venice or for the Hapsburg Archduke Leopold William in Brussels. Carissimi was well known in most of Europe and was greatly admired by audiences there for his Oratorios. His entire artistic legacy would have been lost when the College was looted in 1773, if copies had not been kept by his pupils - more than two generations of prominent musicians who had made his works and his style known in Italy, Germany, France and Britain. The first five motets in this first modern performance are an important contribution to the rediscovery of Carissimi’s non-oratorial sacred music. Research on manuscript X233 at the CMBM in Bologna, has revealed a probable, previously unknown “early manner”, still limited to vocal virtuosity, but by now full of the elements and stylistic traits of his maturity.