The music presented on this disc was recorded on June 5, 2007 at the Abbazia di Santa Maria di Carceri, Padova, Italy utilizing a SADIE LRX2 24 bit 88.1 kHz multichannel recorder and these microphones: Schoeps MK-22 linear (2), Neumann KM-140 (3) and Schoeps MK-4V (7). Arts states that the signals were not compressed or equalized at any stage during production and I can attest that in my reference system the sound is absolutely overwhelming in its beauty and color. The sound in the recording venue is just shy of that monster called echo. I estimate the RT on the recording hall to be around 2.1 seconds and we must congratulate Arts’ recording engineers for their creativity and self control.
Included in this disc are six pieces by Baldassare Galuppi (1706-1785), three by Giacomo Facco (1670-1757) and one by Antonio Gaetano Pampani (1705-1775); these composers’ lives were connected in one way or another to Venice. The music was found in Guatemalan, Bolivian and Spanish archives in Barcelona and Madrid. All this music was used in Guatemalan and Bolivian liturgy after substitution of the original texts. The new verses in Spanish, fitted to their new religious function, were often written by local poets with very little theoretical knowledge of music’s metrics and strophic demands when reworking the arias. The results are nevertheless outstanding. The first question that comes to mind is what a Guatemalan and/or Bolivian performer of the 18th and/or 19th Century could have done with a piece of music written in far away Europe. The performers adapted the works to local extant conditions and brought the music to life again however changed to suit their needs.
To my ears the musical ensemble Albalonga is performing the music with modern instruments and modern pitch but applying period bowing techniques with little if no vibrato – that means pure notes. The three superbly trained singers (Roberta Pozzer, sop.; Sylva Pozzer, sop.; Vincenzo Di Donato, tenor) perform their arias – loaded with enormously difficult ornamentations and variations – with controlled and assured legatos. At no time during the numerous appogiaturas and accaciaturas do their voices break and that is a clear sign of training and confident artistry. Listening to these superlative voices is a sheer delight. It is a magical feeling to hear something other than what we expect and right there is where this disc excels: by surprising us – and what a pleasant surprise it is!
This is not a disc to die for but rather to live for, and listen over and over again. This recording is a must for pure audiophile six channels surround sound, however, a subwoofer must be connected to the system. Without one the sound is rather flat and up-front; obviously the wonderful acoustics of the venue were captured on the LFE channel more than on the other channels. Highly recommended!
— John Nemaric