Thursday, 27 February 2014

Andromeda Liberata - Vivaldi et al.

With the recording of Andromeda liberata – their debut on Archiv Produktion – Andrea Marcon and the Venice Baroque Orchestra have scored a real coup. This is a newly rediscovered, full-concert-length work that languished in obscurity for some 275 years. Usually it’s in attics, boxrooms or junkrooms that sensational finds like this one are made. But in the case of Andromeda liberata it was the venerable archive of the Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello in Venice where, in April 2002, the French musicologist Olivier Fourés happened upon the manuscript of an anonymous, early 18thcentury serenata.

When a discovery of the magnitude of Andromeda liberata takes place, the reaction is rather like a volcanic eruption. Regarding the work’s authorship, the scholarly world is, at least for the time being, divided in its opinion. Fourés has been able to prove beyond doubt that the aria “Sovvente il sole” was written by Antonio Vivaldi and, on the basis of various indications, he has suggested the possibility that the entire work may have been composed by Vivaldi. Nevertheless there is mounting evidence that points to a composite score, a “pasticcio”, bringing together pieces by different composers. The renowned Vivaldi specialist Michael Talbot has found unmistakable signs that some of Vivaldi’s leading Italian contemporaries – for example, Giovanni Porta and Tomaso Albinoni – were involved in the composition. The pasticcio was a popular form in Baroque music, and an extraordinarily practical one, because it allowed already existing musical pieces to be recycled by assembling them in new combinations.

As for the question, “Was it Vivaldi or not?”, the Venice Baroque Orchestra has followed that debate only insofar as it serves the interests of their thrilling recording, about to be issued on Archiv Produktion. Andrea Marcon, the orchestra’s founder and director, considers Vivaldi’s authorship to be entirely plausible, but his and his musicians’ overriding concern has been that of making this exciting, sparkling score accessible to a wider audience. The Baroque sound world here finds ideally sympathetic exponents: the Venice Baroque Orchestra is made up of outstanding instrumentalists who have specialized in the interpretation of early music. After hearing them in concert one London critic declared that it was like hearing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons for the very first time. Now, in this recording, posterity actually will be hearing Andromeda liberata for the very first time in over 275 years.

For that we owe a debt of gratitude to musicologist Olivier Fourés. With the meticulousness of a detective, he tracked down the historical facts behind its genesis. The trail led to Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, who returned to his native Venice on 21 July 1726 after 14 years of political banishment. Ottoboni was a great music lover, and numerous concerts were organized in his honour during the summer and autumn of 1726. It was at one of these concerts that the serenata entitled Andromeda liberata received its first performance.

The questions raised by this spectacular discovery are as fascinating as the serenata itself, the plot of which derives from the Greek myth of Andromeda’s marriage to Perseus. The fair Andromeda is the daughter of Cepheus and Cassiopeia, rulers of Ethiopia. Queen Cassiopeia arouses the indignation of the sea-nymphs by boasting that she is more beautiful than they. Revenge comes swiftly: the sea-god Poseidon sends a sea-monster to ravage Ethiopia. In his despair the king asks the oracle how he can save his country, and is told that the only way is to sacrifice his daughter. The young woman is left naked and chained to a rock to be devoured by the sea-monster. Looking down, the young Perseus beholds the princess and promptly falls in love with her. Having obtained from the royal couple a promise of their daughter’s hand in marriage, the young hero slays the monster and releases Andromeda. The serenata opens at this moment. When Perseus declares his passion for her, Andromeda admits that she loves a certain Daliso (an invented character in the composition). After various vicissitudes, the story ends happily with the wedding of Andromeda and Perseus.

Why should this of all subjects have been chosen for musical setting to celebrate Ottoboni’s return? A number of symbolic parallels with political overtones can be drawn. The young Perseus serving as redeemer represents Cardinal Ottoboni, while Andromeda embodies the suffering city of Venice. The antagonist Daliso could stand for the diplomatic hurdles that Ottoboni needed to overcome in order to return to his beloved native city.

Andromeda liberata is both a magnificent musical piece of Venice and yet another enigma of this city, which to this day has lost none of its mysterious allure. In the hands of Andrea Marcon and the Venice Baroque Orchestra the work opens a window into the Baroque era – the orchestra’s artistic director is a fierce advocate of emotionally charged music making, even, and especially, when the music is Baroque: “Without your own emotion and understanding, you are far from the real Baroque. Of course, there’s not only one valid interpretation: anyone who believes that idea is absolutely wrong. Even after our years of experience in the field, there is still so much to learn!” And although there is no end to learning, nor any definitive solution yet to the puzzle of Andromeda liberata’s authorship, there is one thing that can safely be said: this recording with the Venice Baroque Orchestra is the invitation to an exhilarating musical journey to “La Serenissima”.

                                                                                                                                    Ulrike Brenning


Part1            Part1

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Himmels Lieder (Sacred Songs and Cantatas)

Among the composers that are in this selection, although all of them are now dismissed despite their success in their time, there are some that do not merite such a discredit, just to give some names, Kobelius, Bohm, Sweelink and Erlbach). 

It is fascinating discovering a rare cd with uknown works composed by unknown composers, but at the same time is very sad. It is like fall in love and inmediatly been disapointed. The lost of music in early ages is very commom, quality and full aceptance do no prevent music from been forgot and then by misfortune, been lost. As examples, less than 10% of Erlebach's music survives, Yes!, more than 90% of his music was lost in a fire, the same as plenty of music of Xeixas that was lost during the Lisbon eartquake and fire of 1755. Just around 50% of Monteverdi's and Zelenka's music have survived. And for all the Bach's lovers, thay must know that about 100 of his cantatas are lost alongside other works. 

Better enjoy what is left :)


Flac    mp3

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Cantatas and Chamber Music - Alessandro Scarlatti

 Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725) is condered one of the greatest composers of the baroque period. Hi is best known for his chamber music output, his more than 700 cantatas confirms it, but his operas were also numerous and important, so that, A. Scarlatti is conseidered the founder of the Napolitan opera school. 

His style is unique and plenty of quirks with keen modulations and contrasts in his openings, as can be noticed in this recording. Also one thing that is remarcable is that the arias present in the cantatas here performed, are da capo arias-that is, in the orden A-B-A in wich a first idea is displayed and elaborated at the begining and at the end with a contrasting part (B) in the middle, most of the time as an adagio-, so, is a clue of  Scarlatti's abandonement of his early compositional preference in which his arias showed no repetitions at all.  


Flac   Mp3

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Hasse Reloaded

Johann Adolph Hasse (1699-1683) known as "Il caro Sassone" (The dear saxon) was an exceptional composer in his time. He composed a vast dramatic music and so with sacred one. He was higly respected and by some contemporaries assessed him even above Haendel, but that didnt impede to be forgoten he and his music after his death.

He mastered the Italian style to his operas, as was fancy in the XVIII century, except France that stuck to its french style made up by Lully and developed by his predecesors like Carpentier or Marais. 

Enjoy this magnifique cd that rediscovers music of Hasse concealed for about 250 years!

Flac     mp3

Monday, 17 February 2014

Cantate d'Amore - Caldara

Caldara's love cantas "La costanza vince il rigore" and "La lode premiata" were composed early in the XVIII century when Caldara was appointed in Rome under Francesco Maria Ruspoli. This music is a clear example of the kind of imagination and creativeness that were required in Caldara's time. Unfortunatelly and despite of the great music that was Caldara, over the time his name was shadowed by other name, "Vivaldi", and by the Vivaldi effect that spread in many parts of Europe.


Flac    mp3

Sunday, 16 February 2014

L'age D'or des Castrats (Aris Christofellis)

Aris Christofellis is one of the underlined countertenors in the range of male soprano of the late XX century. As singer, he has been broadly acclaimed, specially for his roles in the late baroque opera. As a musicologist he is very entusiastic in bringing to life ulterior works regarding baroque opera.

This cd is in all ways fantastic, not only because of the woks of Porpora's, Bononcini, etc, but because the Christofellis sopraniste voice that has no paramount.


Flac     Mp3

Saturday, 15 February 2014

La Musique au Temps des Castrats (Music from the age of Castratos)

Vocal music in the XVIII century belonged to castratos. Their voice were so unique and irreplaceable, they didnt have rivals, they knew they were the best (I mean the big names such as, Farinelli, Carestini, Senesiano, Guadagni, etc). Now we have countertenors as a proxy for their voice, but still we dont know how close to the original castrato voice are, because the voice of a countertenor is just an imitation, while castratos developed their voice in the phisiological way, so, making their voice more pure.

The cd is a jewel, since it containes works sung by acclaimed countertenors that Im sure their names will be written in history music books like James Bowman, Dominique Visse and Gérard Lesne. Not sure about  Derek Ree Ragin, but he will be remmembered because he and the soprano Ewa Mallas-Godlewska made the voice for Farinelly in the 1994 film "Farinelli". The last aria "Son qual Nave" of Ricardo Broschi, brother of Farinelli's (Carlo Broschi) comes from the film where their voices were electronically mixed.


Flac     Mp3

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Il Primo Uomo - Arias for Nicolini

Nicolini (Nicola Grimaldo (1673-1732)) was the first castrato in his time, he increased the popularity of Italian opera in England. The very Handel was astonished by Nicolini's voice, that he composed arias specifically for him. The same did others composers of first hand, such as  Alessandro Scarlatti, Caldara, Leo, etc.

All the time he performed, he raised the public entusiam not only for his singing, but because of his portent and good looking, and excepcional aptitutes to act. In few words, he was a super star in the very late XVII century and the beggining of the XVIII.


Flac     Mp3

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Arcadia - Andreas Scholl

To complement my last post, I decided to post also this jewel of pieces devoted for "castrati" made by composers members of  the "Accademia degli Arcadia" in Rome.

From my own experience, I have found that recordings after world premieres are better, but this is an exception among few. This recording brings to life composers that unfortunately have been relegated to obscurity, such as, Gasparini, Bencini or even more, Benedetto Marcello. Alessandro Scarlatti and Corelli were once relegated, but by the time of this recording, they were already greatly revived.  


Flac      Mp3

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Ombra mai fu - Haendel - (Andreas Scholl)

Handel was basically was a composer of dramatic music, in which opera was the most developed and required more attention. Some arias between his operas became relevant and his operas very famous, but certainly the aria "Ombra mai fu" of his opera Xerses is the most known of all. Andreas Scholl interprets it with great mastery and delicateness, thanks to his well educated alto voice.


Flac       Mp3

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Alexander's Feast or The Power of Musick - Handel

Alexander's Feast was completed in January 1736, and was intended to celebrate Saint Cecilia's day. It's a dramatic set in which Alexander the Great, in a night of drunkenness is induced by his mistress Thais to set fire to the Persian city Persepolis. The drama is accompanied by the music arousements on Alexander moods of Timotheus playing the lire and the flute, culminating in an apotheosis to "divine Cecilia", the patron of music.


FLAC             MP3

"Thanks to the original releaser"

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Music for the Royal Fireworks, Concerto a due cori, other works - Handel

Which are the most known works of an x composer? If one asks to a not very versed people in classical music that questions, sure in a certain way it'll depict how famous is and was that x composer. In the case of Handel, the answer will be his three more interpreted works: Water music, music for the royal fireworks and his Messiah. No doubt just few people will be able to answer, and the answers will fir just to few composers.

Handel also likes to recycle music ideas, as he took the main ideas of previous works to make up  a new work, that's the case with his concerti a due cori, where he took parts mainly from his oratorios to construct these orchestral pieces. Of course he did that to other works, like in his cantatas. 
EAC+LOG+CUE | FLAC: 208 MB | Scans
MP3 320 Kbps | 109 MB | Scans

FLAC                  MP3