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Esule dalle sfere - Chi resiste al Dio bendato

Accademia del Ricercare,
Pietro Busca, conductor
Massimo Altieri,tenor
Gianluigi Ghiringhelli, countertenor
Enrico Bava,
Mauro Borgioni, baritone
Lucia Cortese, Paola Valentina Molinari, sopranos
Alessandro Stradella (1644-1682)
Cappella del Seminario di Vercelli (VC), Italy

About this album

Together with Caravaggio, Alessandro Stradella is one of the most fascinating figures of the Italian Baroque era, not just in virtue of an outstanding talent, but also for a tormented life spent in constant fleeting, that contributed to make him very much alike to a protagonist of a modern day novels. Like the famous painter, Stradella died still young at age 38, killed by a knife wound inflicted to him from the hired assassins sent by Giovan Battista Lomellini, a nobleman from Genoa that thus intended to avenge the honor of his sister who – according to his views – the composer had seduced while giving her music lessons. This tragic epilogue brusquely ended a vast musical production that included at the time eight dramas and comedies in music, six sacred Oratorios – that many consider to be among the greatest works of the composer from Nepi – and a large collection of cantatas, both of spiritual and profane character. One of the most emblematic aspects of the style of Stradella is his spirited and vibrant sense of theater that finds full expression in the works conceived for theater representation as well as in works written for performance in private spaces like the cantatas. In the context of sacred music, these often reach intense and brilliant tones that underline with impressive effectiveness the affetti in the text. A work of Stradella maturity, Esule dalle sfere was written in 1680 for the festivity of All Saints Day on a noteworthy text by Pompeo Figari, a priest originally from Rapallo who showed to possess a good literary talent. This quality allowed him to be in among the founders of the Academy of Arcadia in Rome in 1690 and to be admitted to the restricted circles of Pope Clement XI. Written in a purely didactic context, this cantata opens with Lucifer (bass), who expresses all of his rage for having been relegated to the shady atmosphere of Hell and states his will to make the punishment for the souls of Purgatory (chorus) as bitter as possible. After a long and painful path of purification, the souls are destined to reach Heaven. The desperate Purgatory souls ask for mercy, and in the end the Archangel Gabriel (soprano) grants it to them and opens wide the doors of Paradise, that will instead always remain forbidden to Lucifer and his acolytes, who are guilty of daring to place themselves on the same level as God. After a short section in which the importance of the prayers of the living for the eternal salvation of the deceased is explained, the Oratorio ends with jubilant themes underlined by the verse «After a brief sorrow, eternal is the bliss». From the musical standpoint, Esule dalle sfere presents an excellent characterization of the “negative” protagonist, without the bombastic excesses that can be noticed in many works of the last part of the 17th Century. It is supported by brilliant and often virtuosic writing and by an intense dramatic atmosphere that lightens up only in the final chorus with the jubilant souls that are finally saved. Altogether different, the cantata Chi resiste al dio bendato was also composed in the last phase of the creative production of Stadella, and it is centered on the ever-present amorous theme that in this work is declined in happy and luminous tones. In this instance, we do not find ourselves in front of a scene of theatrical nature, but in front of a “love discourse”. This finds its full expression in the final soprano aria «He who lives with love, lives blissfully», preceded by a lively tarantella. From the standpoint of musicology, this cantata is of great importance since in the autograph manuscript the division of the instrumental ensemble between concertino and concerto grosso is clearly indicated, and these were the elements that two decades later were brought to perfection by Arcangelo Corelli in his Opus 6. The scarcity of theatrical aspects of the poetic text translates into a distended, melodious and expressive writing, without excessively virtuosic passages, almost as if Stradella feared that music that was too lively could disturb the serenity of a love fable.

Additional info about this CD
Recorded: on 27th, 28th, 29th February 2020, in Cappella del Seminario di Vercelli (Italy)
18 pages full colour booklet (Ita and Eng)
Artist biography
Musicology comment

Quartetto Kv 370 - Sonata Kv 311 - Terzetti dai Divertimenti Kv 439/b

Ensemble à L'Antica
Luigi Lupo, flauto traversiere
Rossella Croce, violino
Luigi Azzolini, viola
Rebecca Ferri, violoncello
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791

About this album

Around the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries numerous chamber, orchestral and even operatic works were transcribed for small chamber groups. This fairly widespread practice enabled a wide range of instrumental combinations to perform the successful compositions of the day. We have examples of operatic overtures transcribed for solo guitar, of operatic arias transcribed for a solo instrument and, subsequently, “variations on a theme”. The instrumental ensembles used for such arrangements were numerous and varied. The importance of this 19th century phenomenon is its opening up of two pathways. In the first place, it led to a spreading of musical culture. Secondly, it encouraged and increased the pool of enthusiastic amateurs who experienced directly the study of musical instruments. Lastly, the economic angle should not be underestimated: the 19th century European musical salon offered a genuine financial opportunity for both publishers and musicians. The music of Mozart, too, lent itself well to this practice and was revamped and transcribed for instrumental ensembles of every possible kind. The programme offered here provides good examples. In some cases these transcriptions were made by high-ranking, celebrated musicians of the day, while others were made by anonymous transcribers paid by the publishers. An anonymous hand, in fact, made the transcription of the three Trios extracted from the five Divertimentos K.439b, an illustration of the amateur groups catered for by the Viennese publisher Artaria in 1804. The two quartets, on the other hand, are the work of Antoine Hugot (1761-1803), for K.370, and Franz Anton Hoffmeister (1754-1812) for K.311. Antoine Hugot, flautist and composer, was among the first teachers of the flute after the foundation of the Paris Conservatoire. He is the author of a famous method, written jointly with his colleague J.G. Wunderlich (1756-1819) and published posthumously in 1804. Franz Anton Hoffmeister was himself the founder of a Viennese publishing house in 1784 and issued works by Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven. Hoffmeister was a prolific musician and composer. His transcription for flute of works by Mozart may have been partly inspired by his friendship and collaboration with the flautist F. Thurner. Luigi Lupo

Music for the Royal Fireworks

Pietro Tagliaferri, soprano saxophone 
Stefano Pellini, organ
Georg Friedrich Händel (1685-1759)

About this album

After the recording dedicated to Johann Sebastian Bach (CD Elegia, Eleorg037, 2016), Riverberi continues his journey into the world of baroque repertoire featuring Georg Friedrich Handel’s music, exploring many musical genres addressed by the composer, from the Suite for orchestra to the opera aria, from the organ concert to the trio sonata. The intent is to offer a glimpse, as narrow as you want but still significant, that can intrigue the listener’s ear with a new sound experience, through the particular combination of two instruments so far apart - the organ and the soprano saxophone - to look incompatible. The arrangement for violin or flute (or other soprano instrument) and basso continuo of the famous Suite “Music for the Royal Fireworks” , which an anonymous composer wrote in the same year of its composition (1749) - yet another proof of the exceptional fame enjoyed by Händel when he was still alive – was a safe base of work: the various movements, from the solemn Ouverture to the graceful final minuets, exploit the rich sound combinations of the Ruffatti organ to display the different affections that this music offers. The Organ Concerto in F, transcription by Händel himself of the Sonata for flute HWV 369, is particularly suitable for combining the sound the two instruments: in slow movements, the sax keeps for itself the soprano part, in the second and fourth ones, the alternation of solo stops of the organ and the voice of the sax creates a particularly impressive tonal effect. The “Lascia ch’io pianga” Air, which Almirena addresses to the jailer Argante in the Rinaldo (but already used by Handel in “Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno”), is so well known - but also so beautiful! - to appear almost obvious in this anthology; the performance alternates between two different perspectives: the one of the organ which, inspired by author’s transcriptions such as that by William Babell (1717), imbues the motif with long and sometimes complex embellishments, and the other of the sax, which, leaving the baroque paths for a moment, returns to its usual way of expression and gives jazz improvisations on the air. In this recording, for the first time a third instrument is added to propose a chamber music composition: it is the oboe, played by Camillo Mozzoni, professor at the Conservatory in Piacenza. For just this piece the use of a small positive organ, more suitable for basso continuo, was chosen as well as a less generous acoustics than the one of the vast hall of the Parish Church in Portomaggiore - more suitable for grandiloquent and sumptuous compositions - exploiting the “chamber” acoustics of the sixteenth-century sacristy of the church of San Sisto in Piacenza. Who among us knows Händel’s “Clock Music”? Around 1720, the clockmaker Charles Clay, from Yorkshire, presented himself to George I of England, offering his clock with sound pipes, and not without effort in 1723 he became the official supplier of His Majesty. Who could he turn to, if not to Händel, to have short motifs composed for his clocks to reproduce? Händel wrote both original and rearranged motifs for Clay. The four proposed here offer examples of different writing: from the fluttering of the angelic wings (to Flight of Angels), made admirably by the sounds of the 4 foot flutes of the Ruffatti organ, to the soft dance steps of the Minuet (all the 8 foot foundation stops of the organ), from the brilliant arabesques of the Gavotte (the small pipes of the Vigesimaseconda 1’ sound like chimes) to the grandiose notes of the Gigue (the Tutti of the organ), where you can listen to the power of the Ruffatti organ. The Andante from the Organ Concerto in G minor, a real “andante with variations”, soon reached such degrees of appreciation to be circulated autonomously and to have been the subject of countless transcriptions, including that of Marco Enrico Bossi: each variation is entrusted first to one then to the other instrument. None other than Francesco Geminiani in 1743 adapted for keyboard instrument another very famous Suite from Water Music (1717): according to the example of the anonymous transcriber of the Royal Fireworks – which opens this recording - he entrusted the saxophone to the most acute part, often alternating it with the solo organ stops (pay attention, for example, to the alternation of sax and the two Trumpets 8’ and the Chiarina 4’ in the Hornpipe, or the very particular tonal effect created by the Corno Inglese 16’ in the Lentement), with the intention of maintaining grateful fidelity to the language of that “Jupiter of Music” whose greatness continues to orbit, luminous, on our skies. Stefano Pellini

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