May 2021

Prominent protagonist of the Italian Baroque, greatly admired by Bach, Giovanni Legrenzi is an almost forgotten author today. We therefore welcome this splendid recording by the «Nova Ars Cantandi» vocal ensemble, admirably directed by Giovanni Acciai with Ivana Valotti on the organ. Music which, in addition to representing a summary synthesis of various contem-porary and past experiences, is a prodigy in itself for the originality of the poetic invention. It is curious to note, apart from any controversy and just to give a picture of the situation, as in Italy, in addition to a lack of «centri-fugal» attention for what happens outside of us in the field of world contemporary production, especially non-European, a «centripetal» disinterest reigns. towards the recovery and enhancement of our historical heritage. I consider all this the symptom of a disease that has a very specific name: provincialism. The significant fact seems to me to be this: scores in hand, there is no reason to underestimate this repertoire, which naturally needs competent interpreters to shine. All the more significant is this record, those who find it hard to agree with me will approach it and change their mind.

Praise therefore and thanks to Maestro Giovanni Acciai and to the interpreters.

Massimo Giuseppe Bianchi

(«Il Saggiatore musicale»)



April 2021

Eine knappe Stunde dauert diese vorbildliche Weltersteinspielung der «Compiete op. 7» des italienischen Renaissancemeisters Giovanni Legrenzi (1626 - 1690), den das italienische Vorzeigeensembie Nova Ars Cantandi nun brandaktuell für Naxos vorleght.

Sein künstlerischer Leiter Giovanni Acciai zähit spätestens seit seiner Übernahme der Leitung des RAI-Kammerchores in Rom 1989 zu den wichtigsten Persönlichkeiten der europäischen Alte-Musik-Chorszene und hat sich mit der Einspielung zum bevorstehenden 75. Geburtstag selbst Gas größte Geschenk gemacht: in jeder Sekunde können die Hörerlnnen das hier in diese besondere Aufnahme eingeflossene Herzblut hören.

Schon der Beginn dieser Sakralmusikplatte atmet Exzentrik, wenn Alessandro Carmignani in Sopranhöhe die introduktion «Iube, Domne, benedicere» intoniert. Die Sänger werfen sich im Folgenden stets gekonnt die Bälle zu und erreichen in den homophonen Passagen einen satten Sound, der seinesgleichen sucht.

Auch das «Confiteor», in seiner Süsse bezaubernd, noch mehr das «Cum invocarem» führen in grenzwertige Hôhen, .die staunen machen. Das alles trägt zu einer nachhaltigen sakralen Atmosphäre bei, die durch die ganze Platte trägt. Was aber ungemein zusagt, ist der kühne, füllige Bassgesang Marcello Vargettos, der aufpassen muss, dass er nicht ins Operngenre hinūberschwenkt. Sicher gäbe er einen fabelhaften Osmin (Anmerkung der Redaktion: Opernpartie aus Mozarts «Entführung aus dem Serail»). Die Ausdrucksbandbreite der Nova Ars Cantandi ist aber besonders im «Cum invocarem» weit gefächert, wobei der Fokus stets auf Schônklang liegt. Die hier gezeighte verblüffende Homogenität des Gesanges kann nur eine Formation erreichen, die schon lange gemeinsam probt und konzertiert.

Hervorgehoben werden muss noch das Ende der CD, das in einer riesigen emotionalen Stretta bereits ab der «Litaniae Beatae Mariae Virginis» eingeläutet wird. Die Texte sind zum Glück alle im lateinischen Original und in englischer übersetzung abgedruckt, so dass die Hörerinnen bequem Harmonik und sich sonstig auftuende Besonderheiten am Text festmachen können. Auch hier dominiert die beglückende Harmonie itatienischer Renaissancemusik in Vollendung, inklusive der Ausführung. Das ist eine beeindruckende Leistung groBer Intimität und Flexibilität. Dezent formt die Orgel im Hintergrund die harmonische Stütze, ohne je aufdringlich zu werden: immer steht der lobende Gesang im Zertrum, so auch im «Alma Redemptoris Mater», «Regina Coeli» und «Salve, regina» krönen eine absolut empfehlenswerte Ersteinspielung.


(Manuel Stangorra, Chorzeit n. 81)

Ensembleklang:  Five stars      

Interpretation:    Five stars      



February 2021


This CD offers the very first recording of the cycle of evening prayers published in 1662, adapted for secular and monastic offices: Compline, litanies and antiphons to the Virgin by Giovanni Legrenzi
In light of this rarity, Giovanni Acciai is welcomed for the text of his booklet which is particularly attentive and full of information, illustrated with facsimiles of the original print of the Compiete. […] Realized in the pleasantly reverberated acoustics of the Palatine Basilica of Santa Barbara in Mantua, the interpretation is careful and pleasant. [...] The voices are distinguished by the intelligibility of the words and overall the ensemble shows flexibility. The relationship between the voices sometimes favors the acute one; however, overall the relationship remains balanced. [...] The executive rehearsal of Nova Ars Cantandi, founded in 1998, lacks neither experience nor seduction, especially since Ivana Valotti supports it with the delicate whisper of the organ.
This is enough to motivate the discovery of this interesting contribution by Legrenzi to the songs of the Liturgy of the Hours, before the night's rest.

(Christophe Steyne, Crescendo Magazine)



February 2021

This is a highly fascinating collection of music […].

The performance released by Naxos leaves little to be desired. Overal, the singing is excellent, and the five singers show their command of the monodic style in their declamatory approach. In the «tutti» episodes, their voices blend very well. […]

In conclusion, I highly recommend purchasing this disc, which includes almost an hour of wonderful music. Once again, it only whets the appetite for more Legrenzi.

(Johan van Veen, Musica Dei donum)


February 2021

And this is the umpteenth interpretative challenge taken up by Giovanni Acciai and the ensemble Nova Ars Cantandi, who lay out the sacred masterpiece of the Lombard composer with the usual and meticulous attention to the smallest musical and expressive details. The reference context of the Compiete op. 7 by Legrenzi is that of the "second practice" of the Monteverdi school, declined through a succession of polychrome sound panels that are mostly marked by the different formulas of the concerted style and articulated according to the frequent alternation between solo and all. pages, where music becomes servant of the horation, the center of gravity is in fact identified in the "word" which becomes "Word" and which must support its real and metaphysical meaning, as well as its artistic function, as Acciai himself states with extreme clarity in the cover notes of the album:  "The words have a heartbeat – syllables and stresses give them their breath, their flatus vocis. Song in turn does not simply fulfil a musical or aesthetic function as a display of beauty. It is the expression of the emotions inherent in the words. It was this supreme manifestation of a secret knowledge that only Legrenzi held the key to".

(Andrea Milanesi, Avvenire)





February 2021


A recording event that draws its importance from being a real «first fruit», since it offers this opera in the first world recording, namely the Compiete, op. 7, by Giovanni Legrenzi. It is a composition written by a genius that was studied and appreciated by authors such as J. S. Bach, G. F. Händel and J. A. Hasse. As the fifteen tracks alternate, the order of the prayers in the final hour of the Holy Office is followed exactly. Compiete and non Compieta, as Giovanni Acciai points out in the pregnant cover notes he himself compiled, as they include in a single collection of both versions intended for monastic and non-monastic use. [...]
The Nova Ars Cantandi ensemble is aimed at the externalization of a sonorous universe of great expressive power, its components allied in a vocality that relies on an incessant emotional proliferation, where each phrase is declaimed with virgin purity and immaculate beauty. No note can be moved to their interpretation, which in every juncture proves to be of great authority: the vocal geometries designed by this ensemble are ideal in their approach to perfection, in the balance, in the joints, in raising the tactus to mandatory law. expressive. The harmony of these musicians, the confidence with which they express their vocal art, accompanied on the basso continuo by the talented Ivana Valotti, is such as to eliminate at the root any hesitation that could be reflected in listening. I used the term «perfection»; I could argue that it is not of this world, but I do not know others who are able to describe the great sensations I felt listening to this record, the sense of total harmony between words and music that it inspires. […] The technical level of the recording was excellent, carried out from 23 to 25 April 2018 in the Palatine Basilica of Santa Barbara in Mantua, under the care of the sound engineer Jean-Marie Quint. [...] The original ambience is preserved, respected in a capture of the sound that does not seem afflicted by false alterations during the editing phase and which, for this reason, is remarkably natural. Just as the intelligibility of the Latin text is very good, thanks also to a skilful mixture of the close field with the distant one. If it is true that nothing can replace a live performance, it is also true that a recording of this level does not make one feel too much of the "minus" between a reproduction and the living event.

(Alfredo Di Pietro, Non solo audiofili)


January 2021

Though Giovanni Legrenzi has been described as having a reputation as one of most esteemed Italian composers of the 17th century, he had a chequered career.

Born in 1626, close by the major musical city of Bergamo, his early musical education came from his father, his obvious musical talent soon gaining him entry into the Accademia di Santa Maria Maggiore, and it was there that he became the organist in 1645. From there he looked towards a more major appointment elsewhere, but was always rejected until he received the greatest honour of becoming the Maestro di Cappella at the ‘golden basilica’ in San Marco. It was a post once held by Monteverdi, but only five years later Legrenzi died aged 64. We have to turn the clock back to 1662, when he was in charge of music at the Accademia della Spirito Santo in Ferrara, and we find him composing the Compiete con le lettanie et antifone, a score lasting not far short of an hour with most of the text coming from the bible, and including five Psalms. Stylistically we have not travelled far from Monteverdi’s era, but it was Legrenzi, using five voices to create the texture, that would lead to the sacred vocal works by Handel and Telemann.

Cast in fifteen sections, it was an enterprise seldom undertaken, and now rarely performed, this being the World Premiere Recording. It is sung by the voices of the Italian Early Music Group, «Nova Ars Cantandi» (not to be confused with Ars Nova Copenhagen), including the famous counter-tenor, Alessandro Carmignani, the gorgeous soloist in the second section, They are conducted by Giovanni Acciai, with the organ of Ivana Valotti, and I doubt that it could possibly receive a more persuasive performance and in an ideally balanced recording. Strongly recommended. 

(David’s Review Corner)


December 2020

In Ferrara, perhaps also to please the sophisticated taste of the Marquis Bentivoglio, Giovanni Legrenzi composed (publication: Venice, 1662) the Compiete con le Lettanie and Antiphons of the B.V. Compline is the completorium, the last of the Liturgical Hours, and includes a succession of Psalms and Antiphons similar to that of Vespers. Legrenzi's Compiete are for five voices with continuo; they are now released in an exquisite performance for the «Naxos» interpreted by Nova Ars Cantandi conducted by Giovanni Acciai with Ivana Valotti who realizes the basso continuo.

It is believed that there are many lovers of musical Baroque today. Usually, they prefer thin Opera Arias. I would like them to dedicate themselves to the rotating globe of these contrapuntal lines which envelop you and let the word always, in the end, be the master of the music, according to Monteverdi's formula.

(Paolo Isotta, Il Fatto Quotidiano)


December 2020

Je viens juste d'ecouter les Compiete de Legrenzi, dans la superbe intepretation du Nova Ars Cantandi et de son directeur Giovanni Acciai. Quelle beauté, quelle perfection si bien l’enregistrement que l’interprétation!  Vraiment un bijoux . Il y a ici un ensemble de vocalistes extraordinaires de qualité exceptionnelle.
Un style remarquable et vraiment un enregistrement parfait. Une acoustique parfaite.

Dès les premières notes nous étions hypnotisés de la superbe qualité de ce disque et de cette musique inestimable. Comment est-ce possible que les œuvres de Legrenzi  sont restés presque   inconnues  jusqu’à présent?

(Jean-Pierre Van Avermaet)



December 2020

Legrenzi’s CD is fantastic!
His music rejects special effects and easy compositional shortcuts in order to lead to the highest level a so brilliant and original arrangement of the musical lines. The composer is able not only to enhance the sound of the whole but to display the vocal sounds and the vocal combinations with an extraordinary artistic skill.
These compositions are really a very refined pearls.
Infact you can only feel dismay and emotion at hearing such beautiful and excellent performance.
It’s a charming music that fascinates with its euphony and its careful exaltation of the multi-voiced warp thanks to the subtle use of chiaroscuro technique in vocal timbres.
The ensemble singing is superb. They are all excellent!
I can’t imagine what meticolous attention to the quality of sound Giovanni Acciai has lavished in realizing such a refined production.

(M. B.)


December 2020

«Compline» is the final prayer in the monastic day. It is unsurprising that such a moment should be honoured by composers with music of radiant beauty; what is surprising is that this performance of, to accord the work's full title, Giovanni Legrenzi's Compiete con le lettanie et antifone della B. V. a 5, Op. 7' is a World Premiere recording. This is music of freshness and emotion, shot through with profound spirituality and (thankfully, given the World Premiere status this disc enjoys) heard in a performance of the utmost beauty. […] Today, Legrenzi is perhaps best known for his instrumental music, but this disc implies we should be looking elsewhere. […] Just wait until you hear this new Naxos recording tbough, with the five voices of Nova Ars Contandi (SCTTB) in magnificent form, along with Ivana Valotti on organ; director Giovani Acciai seems to find the perfect tempos throughout. […] Written according to the new stylistic freedoms of Monteverdi's "Seconda pratica" (Second Practice, in which the strict rules concerning dissonance and counterpoint of the "Prima pratica" were relaxed somewhat), Legrenzi ensures that the meaning of the words is perfectly honoured. Most of the work is in the so-called concertato style (alternating solos and group), and Legrenzi's counterpoint is progressive for its time, representing the so-called "nuova musica" (new music). Yet he uses the older style ("stylus gravis") for some fugato passages. So much, so technical; the point is that this is a massively varied work of heart-melting beauty. […] Do hear this Compiete; this is one of the most significant Baroque releases I have come across this year and, being perfectly honest, it presents the truest distillation of  the beauty of Legrenzi's music of all the listed releases.

(Colin Clarke, Classical explorer)


December 2020

If you enter the heart of reading made by Giovanni Acciai with his ensemble, the Nova Ars Cantandi, you are impressed by how the Latin text is made intelligible, and more comprehensible; [...] it is an approach that not only exceeds the normal understanding evoked by the semantic force of the words , but it represents the spatial depth from which the text itself radiates [...] . And this is especially true when the overlay of more lines in the song merge into a unique vision, such as many tributaries converge into a single river, (listen to the incipit of the Converte nos, Deus). These melodic lines are always intelligible thanks to this distinguishing feature: the purity and clarity of singing [...] Another detail not be underestimated: the inner rhythm impressed by Giovanni Acciai in the reading of the Compiete. It is a rhythm that, starting from the organ's emission, spreads in the voices coming into a «sing intimately»  [ …]. A song able to transform itself into «breath»  (listen to In te, Domine, speravi), thanks to its «inner rhythm». This is due to the admirable excavation work, a sort of bulin engraving sound, realized by Giovanni Acciai with his authentic choral war machine that is the Nova Ars Cantandi. This ensemble has become the first consolidated point of reference for the great Renaissance and Baroque music. Not by chance Nova Ars Cantandi with its not only philological, but so moving and emotional performances, represents one of the most acclaimed performing realities at the international level. In short, it is an unavoidable recording.

(Andrea Bedetti, Music Voice)


August 2019

[...] in the darkened church, we were treated to a most moving spectacle. The music (Responsoria of Leonardo Leo) was very moving and the singing was superb.May be (Nova Ars Cantandi) another contender for best concert of the Festival?

(Christopher Price Pontifex)

The four singers produce an admirable performance both from a vocal and interpretative point of view. [...] Giovanni Acciai wisely manages times and breaks, always keeping tension high and arousing attention.

(Daniela Goldoni, Opera Click)


December 2018


LEONARDO LEO, Responsoria (CD Archiv, 481 7351)

Artistic judgment: EXCEPTIONAL
In world premiere, Giovanni Acciai and the ensemble Nova Ars Cantandi [...] were able to return this sacred work with such an expressive intensity as to transform the singing lines into as many scenic characters, in which the spiritual inspiration is combined with the contrapuntal construct, giving life to a reading in which purity and suffering find common ground.

(Andrea Bedetti)


December 2018

LEONARDO LEO, Responsoria (CD Archiv, 481 7351)

Artistic judgment: EXCEPTIONAL

[...] The five male voices [...] with Ivana Valotti (organ) form Nova Ars Cantandi, an ensemble particularly suited to the new spiritual context,  conducted by Giovanni Acciai with great sensitivity and stylistic awareness.

(Paolo Petazzi)


November 2018

[...] Acciai has made an act of conversion, imposing himself as the arbiter of an absolute textual rigor, in the word and its semanticity: the quartet of voices in a mellow ensemble, the splendid continuo on the organ of the champion Ivana Valotti: all compact and sound. [...].

(Salvatore Morra)


November 2018

A precious harmonic-timbral warp, achieved through a very pure vertical balances and skilful accent turnings, artfully chiseled through a sublime symbiosis of singing and counterpoint realized by the four voices and continuo.

It’s a reading that knows how to restore and highlight at best the sacred and dramatic substance of theatrical gestures through a peculiar Neapolitan sensibility. This is recognizable in the very high technical-analytical teaching and in the admirable expressive intentions achieved by the most recent record product given to us by Giovanni Acciai at the head of the talented Collegium vocale et instrumentale Nova Ars Cantandi.

(Paola De Simone)



November 2018

[...] From a technical point of view, the merits of the performance must be grasped in the delicacy of the vocal mixture obtained though a care given to each melodic phrase and through an adherence to the contrapuntual lines standing out, in a writing, as essential reference trace [...]. The detailed work in combining vocal colours and performing gestures contributes at best to the dramatization of this proposal [...].The Nova Ars Cantandi finds in Ivana Valotti, organist, an assiduous and pertinent instrumental support, and in Giovanni Acciai the natural reference.

(Stefano Valanzuolo)


December 2018

[...] As the voice of all humanity turning to God for help and comfort, yesterday, in Santa Barbara, G. A. seemed to play with his whole body a celestial organ made by human voices. In fact he moved five extraordinary singers with invisible threads, in the performance of Claudio Monteverdi-Aquilino Coppini's Contrafacta.

(Maria Antonietta Filippini)


May 2017

CLAUDIO MONTEVERDI, Contrafacta (CD Archiv, 481 5086)

Artistic judgment: FIVE  STARS

[...] with a wealth of ideas, with only male voices and an organ, if necessary by substituting unattuned parts above the instrument, according to a typical practice in use, Acciai digs into words, broadens the range of emotions, savors notes and words, creates a constantly changing sound: splendid, languid, turgid, soft, sometimes sidereal in a way making pain and suffering universal. At present, this is the most successful record production dedicated to the anniversary of Monteverdi.

(Massimo Rolando Zegna)


March 2017

CLAUDIO MONTEVERDI, Contrafacta (CD Archiv, 481 5086)

[...] A fascinating record by Archiv, made by that extraordinary interpreter of the madrigal world that is Giovanni Acciai, with the excellent ensemble Nova Ars Cantandi. He guides us to the most reserved places in our musical history.

(Gian Paolo Minardi)


March 2017

[...] an evening beyond belief to one's ears, even in a metaphorical sense. In addition to the excellent performing, the Bramante Sacristy of Madonna delle Grazie, in Milan, a 200-seat hall, was packed with people queiting in the streeet.

(Stefano Jacini)