Profeti della Quinta - Live Review - New York Classical Review
27 January 2014New York Classical Review
Eric C. Simpson
Rossi (ca.1570-1630), an Italian-Jewish violinist and composer, was active between 1587 and 1628, achieving considerable renown in that time as court composer to the Gonzaga dukes of Mantua. A composer of both secular Italian and Hebrew liturgical music, he was possibly the first person ever to publish Jewish music using European musical notation.
Making their U.S. debut, Profeti della Quinta were as captivating in person as they had been on screen. The printed programs included text-and-translation, but it was hardly needed. They conveyed the meaning of the poetry with their diction, intention, and phrasing, commanding constant attention with their passionate and emotional music-making. Their program, highlighting selections from their new CD Il Mantovano Hebreo, included music from both of Rossi's worlds, the secular and the sacred.
The five singers of Profeti are all formidable, but the group boasts a countertenor of rare technique and artistry in Doron Schleifer. There is nothing gawky or unnatural in his sound-his voice rings clear and flows freely. When he needed to turn up the emotional intensity, he did so without the slightest vocal blemish. One of the high points of the afternoon was his poignant and plaintive solo, 'Cor mio, deh, non languire,' delivered with supple phrasing.
As an ensemble, they sang with excellent intonation and moved as a unit, musically. Their bright sound breathed life into Rossi's music, and they were accompanied admirably on the theorbo by Ori Harmelin, also a regular member of the group. Harmelin displayed both grace and virtuosity in a somber Passacaglia by Alessandro Piccinini (1566-ca.1638). Two original works by the group's musical director, Elam Rotem, were welcome additions to the program, fitting in stylistically with Rossi's works, but also communicating a beaming joy of their own.
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