Composed in 1778, J.C. Bach's La Clemenza di Scipione is a nice, direct, fat-free work. The arias tend to be short (not one of them is a da capo), the recitatives are to the point and likewise brief, and the action moves swiftly. Roman Scipio (tenor) has taken Cartagena and Spanish soprano princess Arsinda (and her soprano pal, Idalba) prisoner. Male soprano, fellow non-Roman Lucieo, is betrothed to Arsinda, while the Roman general Marzio (tenor) is in love with Idalba and vice-versa. The whole plot revolves around the heroic Lucieo's attempts to rescue Arsinda, et al., his being taken prisoner, and his being threatened by death if he refuses to pledge allegiance to Rome. He never does give in, but Scipio does–hence the clemency–and Scipio gives everyone their freedom once he realizes how impressive a gal Arsinda is. Everyone swears loyalty to Rome. Hooray! There's plenty of room for grief arias, anger arias, revenge arias, why-is-my-life-so-dreadful arias, and if-only-I-could-end-your(-my)-suffering arias, in many tempos.
Written for London audiences in 1770, Johann Christian Bach’s only extant oratorio, Gioas, Re di Guida, is a proverbial curate’s egg. Attempting to please both those weaned on Handel and those hoping to hear the oratorio genre given a rococo makeover, it failed to please either. Such was London’s veneration for the spirit of Handel that Bach was booed when he dared play an organ interlude between acts; and despite George III’s patronage, the work was soon neglected. Audiences of the time simply did not want to hear Italian operatic conventions in their oratorios.
Over 200 years later, such considerations are, thankfully, far less important. While it remains slightly disconcerting to hear quasi-Handelian choruses interpolated into what is in every other respect an opera seria, Bach’s graceful galant manner and his easy, fluid way with vocal melody remain as delightful as ever throughout an increasingly dramatic succession of accompanied recitatives, arias and duets. The fulsome choruses themselves turn out to be the work’s most colourful elements.
This set of sound waves molded in chords and soft complex textures creates a feeling of constant flow, mutating into different sound pieces. These six pieces are created to be reproduced in continuous succession in the order that the artist has created them. Max excavates in each of the six tracks a new sonic sculpture, influenced by the quiet atmosphere of the long hot summer days, where nature falls asleep to the song of the cicadas. This music reflects the power of the earth, its influence on us and the way it molds us, gently and in multiple layers of sounds and waves that project us into a new, deeper stillness…