Of the nine masses attributed to Pergolesi only two are authentic, the Mass in D major and the Mass in F major. Both scores include only the Kyrie and the Gloria, and therefore belong to the missa brevis type, although they are in fact relatively substantial pieces. Three manuscript versions of the Mass in F have come down to us, the first is for soloists, five-part choir and orchestra; the second for soloists, five-part choir and two orchestras; and the third for soloists, four five-part choirs, and two orchestras.
Of Alessandro Scarlatti’s ten masses, the Messa per il Santissimo Natale (Christmas Mass), which was written in 1707 while Scarlatti was maestro di cappella of the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, handles its polychorality in a solidly traditional manner. The two choirs always appear as two distinct blocks of sound., and throughout the mass there is virtually no doubling of parts, which gives the score a particular richness of timbre. This is further underlined by the presence in the first choir of two sopranos, who are often allotted solo sections. To this should be added the special treatment accorded to the two violins, which follow their own specific sonic trajectory and in fact constitute a sort of ‘third choir’, since they almost never double the vocal parts.
Founder-director of Concerto Italiano, Rinaldo Alessandrini is considered to be one of the most authoritative interpreters of Monteverdi worldwide. His recordings (for Opus 111, Astrée, Arcana, and Deutsche Harmonia Mundi) include not only Italian music, but also Bach and his contemporaries. He has garnered the highest critical plaudits including three Gramophone Awards, two Grands Prix du Disque, and three Deutsche Schallplattenpreise. Concerto Italiano’s revelatory interpretations have revolutionised our perception of seventeenth and eighteenth century Italian music. The group’s groundbreaking recordings of Monteverdi’s madrigals have achieved international benchmark status, establishing it with critics and audiences as the finest ensemble of its kind in Italy today. The impressive array of critical awards received for these recordings include five Gramophone Awards (the only Italian ensemble to have been thus honoured), ten Diapasons d’Or and 2 Diapasons d’Or de l’Année and two Deutsche Schallplattenpreise,