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Esule dalle sfere - Chi resiste al Dio bendato

Artists
Accademia del Ricercare,
Pietro Busca, conductor
Massimo Altieri,tenor
Gianluigi Ghiringhelli, countertenor
Enrico Bava,
Mauro Borgioni, baritone
Lucia Cortese, Paola Valentina Molinari, sopranos
Composer
Alessandro Stradella (1644-1682)
Venue
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

Sonate a due flauti

Artists
Ensamble A'L'Antica
Luigi Lupo,   transverse flute1
Pietro Berlanda, transverse flute2 
Compositor
Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)

About this album

Until 1999 Telemann was thought to have written four collections of duets for two flutes, three of which were published in Paris: Sonates sans Basse (1727), XIIX Canons mélodieux (1738) and Second Livre de Duo (1752). The fourth collection remained manuscript and the only copy is kept in Berlin in the Staatsbibliothek (D-B, Mus. Ms. 21787). In 1999, however, all the scores of the Sing Akademie in Berlin stolen during the Second World War were found in the Kiev Library and thus nine other duets came to light and now they have the catalog number TWV 40: 141-149. The manuscript, the work of an unidentified Berlin copyist, has the signature SA 3903 (ZD 1742 g) and consists of two separate parts, each of 22 folios. These are duets of good quality even if a little heterogeneous and in fact the musicologist Steve Zohn has raised doubts about the authenticity of the last three. In reality, the doubts also concern some of the others and it is quite evident that they were not composed in the same period and with the idea of forming a homogeneous collection. Telemann was very systematic in his publications starting from the choice of the tonalities which here are randomly and repeatedly distributed: 3 Duets in G major, 2 in E minor and B minor, one in D major and A minor. It is possible that it is material prepared while writing the various collections and then unpublished but it is likely that the copyist has inserted other contemporary pieces to replenish the manuscript that had been commissioned to him. At the time there was in fact a thriving market that revolved around publishers and addressed to amateurs who wanted pieces for domestic use and for educational purposes. And in fact the main value of much of Telemann’s music is the formative one, indicated at times in the same titles: Sonate Metodiche ed Essercizii Musici. As for a possible dating of the duets, I think a distinction should be made between the date of composition of the pieces and that of making the copy. In the Répertoire International des Sources Musicales (RISM) the second half of the eighteenth century is very generally indicated. The fact that the manuscript was part of the personal collection of Sara Levy (1761-1854), a favorite pupil of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach and whose father Daniel Itzig was a Jewish banker inserted in the court of Frederick the Great, does not help since she collected scores of authors of the whole eighteenth century, primarily JS Bach, and then left them all to the Sing Akademie. Probably the score was copied after the middle of the eighteenth century but, as mentioned, it is almost certain that the pieces were composed before and in different periods. Based on the stylistic analysis of the pieces, Steve Zohn hypothesizes a time interval between 1730 and 1740 but the variety of shapes in the collection allows it to be able to reach the middle of the century. Inside the collection, a curiosity immediately catches the eye: the Sonata n. 5 in G major ends with an Allegro in 3/8 in D major and this would be unique in the panorama of the time. It can therefore be assumed that the sonata is incomplete (but already has five movements) or that the Allegro is a kind of Trio of the previous Menuet in 3/8 which therefore should be performed again to finish in the tonic. Finally I underline the happy choice of the interpreters to use both flutes copy of an original instrument by Joannes Hyacynthus Rottenburgh (1672-1765) whose sonic characteristics of fullness in the low register, good agility and richness of tone perfectly adapt to the variety of atmospheres present in general in the music of Telemann.

Additional info about this CD
Recorded in Palazzo Venturi, Avio (Trento) Italy, from 23th to 25 th August 2011
11 pages full colour booklet (Ita and Eng)
Artist biography
Musicology comment

Organ Works

Artist
Paolo Bottini, organ
Composer
Amilcare Ponchielli (1834-1886)

About this album

In March 1855, Amilcare Ponchielli (Paderno Fasolaro, August 31, 1834 – Milan, January 16, 1886), became the official organist at the parish church of Sant’Imerio in Cremona. He had just finished his studies at the Royal Conservatoire in Milan when he was given this prestigious and profitable position, which he held until 1860. If he took up the office, it was possibly thanks to Ruggero Manna and don Cesare Palischi’s endorsements. Both of them knew and appreciated the young musician: the former, who was maestro di cappella at the Cremona Cathedral, had already chosen Ponchielli the year before as his substitute in conducting vocal and instrumental consorts at the local theatre; the latter, who had been the organist at the Cremona Cathedral from 1824 to 1849, was also a native of the Cremonese village Paderno Fasolaro. It was the instrument newly created by Angelo Bossi from Bergamo that the gifted musician had the chance to play in Sant’Imerio. Bossi’s organ wasn’t very big, but it was very rich in sounds: following the rules of the coeval organ-making, it was provided with organ stops imitating orchestras and bands instruments, such as the flute, the trumpet, the piccolo, the bassoon, the viola and the cello. Compositions recorded on this disk – whose scores, edited by Marco Ruggeri, had been published in 1999 by the Cremonese publisher “Turris” – belong precisely to this five-years period (1855-1860). Everybody may easily grasp the Opera-like character of these pieces, sounding as they were composition exercises inspired from operatic scenes. In those days, organists actually used to transcribe the most praised Opera arias in order to make them playable on their instruments during the Mass: it was absolute routine to take inspiration from Operas in composing original pieces for the pipe organ. The compositions proposed by this recording show how, despite his young age, Ponchielli masterfully handled a great variety of forms and owned a great armoury of very fresh ideas. Amongst these compositions stands out the “Symphony half for the organ and half for the piano”. The peculiar title hints to the habit, widespread during the 19th century, of writing compositions for the pipe organ without scores for the pedalboard, so that they were easily playable in a church as well as in a private living room. Paolo Bottini has completed two of the compositions of this recording which Ponchielli left unfinished (track 14: “Versetto n. 2 in primo tono”; track 20: “Andantino in sol”). To record this disk, Bottini has chosen the instrument made by the organ-maker Pacifico Inzoli from Crema for the Archpriest church of San Dalmazio Vescovo in Paderno Fasolaro: it was actually Ponchielli, teaming with the renowned performer Vincenzo Petrali from Crema, who inaugurated it on 25 September 1873. Inzoli’s organ set in Paderno Fasolaro has been newly and masterly restored in 2019 by the organ-makers “Fratelli Bonizzi” from Ombriano di Crema.

Additional info about this CD
Recorded on May and June 2019, Chiesa di San Dalmazio Vescovo, Paderno Ponchielli (CR), Italy,
Booklet 11 pages full colour booklet (Ita and Eng)
Musicology comment
Artist biography

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