Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Alessandro Stradella, Carlo Felice Cillario, The Angelicum Orchestra of Milan|
Nativitatis - Christmas Choral & Sacred Music
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
Interesting pairing of works from the middle Baroque and lat
Craig Matteson | Ann Arbor, MI | 01/31/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This disk contains the work of two distinguished Italian composers: Stradella from the middle Baroque, and Lorenzo Perosi, an Italian religious composer from the Italian late 19th century operatic tradition. Stradella is represented by his cantata "Cantata per Il Santissimo Natale" (Christmas Cantata for the Holy One (?)) and Perosi by the second part of his two part oratorio "Il Natale Del Redentore" (The Christmas of the Redeemer).
Alessandro Stradella (1644-1682) was a second generation composer of the Baroque era. He was noted for the development he made in the forms of the operatic aria, the oratorio form, and his skill in using counterpoint dramatically. He had a great influence on composers who wrote in the Italian style in the later Baroque; especially G. F. Handel. In fact, there remains some debate if there are indeed borrowings from Stradella in some of Handel's work such as some of the plague music in his oratorio "Israel in Egypt". Stradella's life was the stuff of legend. He lived a dramatic life that apparently ended in his murder when he was in his thirty-eighth year.
This work is quite dramatic and balances the recitative and aria with an instrumental opening, called a symphony, a chorus (of furies) after the opening recitative and aria, and a concluding madrigal from the chorus. Since I do not speak Italian and the disk does not come with the text (nor have I been able to locate it on the web), I am not exactly sure what the story is about or what furies have to do with Christmas. But it is quite dramatic and beautiful music.
The Perosi is in Latin, since it was, I think, intended to be performed within the church for some festival (though not a liturgical service). From what I have been able to find out, this piece is from 1899. This was a time when the Church was influenced more by the opera house than by chant (which led to a change not long afterwards and which continued throughout the 20th century). The influence of the sound and emotionalism of Italian opera of this time is obvious in the sound, if not the affect of this music. Here, the music is meant to present to us a transcendent vision of Mary and the Infant Savior and, I believe the events surrounding the nativity (again, without the text it is hard for me to know). It is as if we are being guided through static tableaux and the music is our reaction to the vision we are seeing. It is more about adoration and a state of ecstatic worship than a story of drama and movement. If my assessment of the this is correct, then Perosi pulled it off quite well. The tranquil beauty with which the piece ends is especially gorgeous and as it disappears into a quiet silence, we hold the beauty within ourselves.
Neither of these pieces is great music in the sense of a Bach, Handel, or Monteverdi. However, it is quite effective and well composed. Another interesting aspect of this disk is performance practice. The forces for this album are perfectly suited for the Perosi. However, the way they perform the Stradella seems to me to be out of date by our present standards. It sounds an awful lot like Respighi. Now, this could be said to be a doubly informed performance practice technique of capturing the way Stradella would have been performed in Perosi's time (hence the Respighi sound) or performed a bit too clumsily for our time's conception of the Baroque sound. Take your pick. My guess is that the group was assembled with the Perosi in mind and they performed the Stradella without reconsideration of the difference in style the 200 years demanded.
Still, I am quite happy this music is in print. I could not find other disks of these works. Someone really should do an historically informed disk of this and other Stradella works. And while the style for the Perosi was just fine, it would be nice to have the complete work (both parts).
And, publishers, always - always - always, please, always, put the texts in with the disks. If you can't afford the extra buck to print them (I would happily pay the extra buck or two), at LEAST publish them on the web and point to that link with one simple URL on the disk or the inside cover. It is frustrating to not be able to find out exactly what is being sung in these works."