Marco Marazzoli (1602-1662) was a priest and composer who entered the service of Cardinal Berberini in Rome in 1626. His output did include operas, but Marazzoli devoted more of his energy to the oratorio, at least seven of which were to Italian texts, rather than the usual Latin. The most significant of them was the last, this Oratorio di Santa Caterina, completed in 1660, and based upon the life of the martyr Saint Catherine, daughter of the king of Alexandria. The only surviving source of the oratorio (in the Vatican library) is badly damaged, and so this recording, the latest in Atalante's series devoted to works from 17th-century Rome, is based in part on a reconstruction. Some of it may be routine, but performed as here with great care and the lightest of touches under director Erin Headley, the best is strikingly beautiful, especially Piango la tua Sventura, the lament accompanied by a lirone that is sung by a Roman soldier just before Catherine is put to death. The disc also includes an aria, another lament, from Cain e Abel by Bernado Pasquini, a Roman composer some 30 years younger than Marazzolli.
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