In the autumn of last year Fabio Bonizzoni and La Risonanza embarked on a journey taking a fresh look – musicologically as well as musically – at the chamber cantatas to Italian texts and with instrumental accompaniment composed by Georg Frideric Handel during his stay in Italy. Where the first release on Glossa focused on works associated with Cardinal Pamphili in Rome, this new recording contains pieces – including the dramatic cantata Armida abbandonata and Handel’s ‘own’ Hunt Cantata – originating in the establishment of the Marquis Ruspoli and written for sopranos such asMargherita Durastante and Vittoria Tarquini.
A few years after the assassination of Stradella, Pierre Bourdelot and Pierre Bonnet-Bourdelot included a story of the episode in their Histoire de la Musique in 1715, and consequently the ‘legend of Stradella’ was born. According to the legend, Stradella had disappeared with the lover of a Venetian noble, who in response hired a band of assassins to pursue the lovers from city to city. In the booklet of this CD – with its recording from Enrico Gatti, his Ensemble Aurora and Emanuela Galli in the title role – are contained the latest results of Carolyn Gianturco’s investigation into the life and works of Stradella, including some completely new information. La Susanna, an erotic oratorio, was written by Stradella in 1681 on commission from Francesco II, Duke of Modena, who was very fond of the genre. A fine summary of the oratorio’s noteworthy qualities was put forth in a letter by a gentleman who had been present at rehearsals of its first performance. He wrote that he was ‘estatic about the sinfonias, about the variety of the arias, about the exquisiteness of the recitative and about the diversity and unexpectedness of the subjects and about the rarity of the basso continuo’.
It is a studio production with all the benefits of excellent acoustics, perfect balance, no disturbing noises from stage movements or audience reactions and the option to re-record momentary lapses. And there is another advantage: these studio sessions were based on a staged production at the Thesaloniki Concert Hall in March 2008! I suppose this is a misprint. If it is, this is the only error in this wholly delightful production.
This delightful intermezzo per musica in two acts - recounting the old story of a naïve young nobleman and of a sly girl who, after a series of squabbles and pranks, following the best of traditions, declare eternal love to each other and decide to get married - has pleased audiences ever since its first performance at the San Samuele theatre in Venice in 1750, and is here recorded for the first time. At that time the intermezzo was already a well-defined and self-standing music form, detached from opera seria, with which, originally, it had been combined. It was also, however, in a declining phase and nearing its disappearance. And yet L'uccellatrice by Niccolò Jommelli enjoyed many performances (Leipzig, 1751; Bologna, Ravenna and Vicenza, 1753; Parma, 1756; Florence, 1760; Pescia, 1772) and was even translated into French, with the score adapted and enlarged.