Marianna Martines Dixit Dominus has something to say

Musically, Marianna Martines was always in good company. She took keyboard lessons from Haydn. Metastasio — opera librettist and Poet Laureate of the Austrian Empire — was a close family friend. She played four-hand piano sonatas with Mozart.

In her lifetime, she was highly regarded as a pianist, a singer, and a composer. This release features three of her choral compositions. Charles Burney described her music as “very well written, in a modern style; but neither common, nor unnaturally new.”

I mostly agree with that. Dixit Dominus and Psalm 151 are fine examples of Classical Era choral works. The choir has a light, spacious sound. Martines demonstrates a solid grounding in counterpoint. And she knows how to illuminate the text.

Of especial interest is the use of the salterio. This was a member of the zither family, and popular in Italy. It has the sound of a hammered dulcimer. Martines uses it as aria accompaniment. It’s an interesting choice and shows Martines’ skillful creativity.

Also included is Martines’ lone Symphony (or Overture) in C major. To me, it shows the influence of Haydn. I especially hear it in her opening themes and their motivic development.

That’s not to take away from Martines’ composition. The model may have come from her teacher and friend. But what she does with it is entirely hers.

Wolfgang Brunner conducts the Salzburger Hofmusik in some spirited performances. If you like Haydn and Mozart, you should definitely enjoy this recording of Martines.

Marianna Martines: Dixit Dominus
Marianna Herzig, Alekandra Zamojska, sopranos; Nele Gramss, Eva Schlossleitner, mezzosoprano; Cristian havel, Virgil hartinger, tenor; Roland Faust, bass
Heidelore Schauer, salterio
Salzburger Hofmusik; Wolfgang Brunner, conductor
CPO 777 985-2

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