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Giuseppe Torelli (1658–1709) was the reputed father of the instrumental concerto; what is not widely known is that he also composed sacred vocal music. Discovered in 2001, when the Berlin Sing-Akademie’s archive was returned from Kiev (where it had been hidden away since the Second World War), his four-movement motet Ite, procul abite, maestitiae (‘Go, begone, sadness’) for soprano, two violins and continuo is a splendid example of its genre. Torelli probably wrote it at Ansbach during a brief interregnum around 1700 when his employer, the Basilica di San Petronio in Bologna, temporarily suspended its orchestra, leaving its members to seek their fortune elsewhere. This exciting and technically challenging work, full of exquisite touches, reaches the heights of similar motets by Alessandro Scarlatti and looks forward to Vivaldi.
Music example (pdf)