The Fondazione Pergolesi Spontini, which has been devoting itself to the research and performance of Pergolesi‘s music for years now, had his operas recorded live at the annual Music Festival in Jesi. Released on this BD are two productions from Jesi of one almost forgotten opera, Il prigionier superbo, and one of Pergolesi’s most popular works, La serva padrona, combined like they were at the original premiere.
Pergolesi’s first opera “La Salustia” is filled with emotions and dramatic elements. It portrays the battle of two women, their struggle for power and justice. Further, it is the story of failing deceitful plots and mistrust. Young French director Juliette Deschamps, known for various opera productions in Jesi, made the old story come alive on a stage that suggests an ancient palace with large windows, later on the coliseum. The cast features well-loved Pergolesi interpreters such as Serena Malfi, Laura Polverelli or Vittorio Prato. The Accademia Barocca de I Musici Italiani, well-known for productions in historic performance practice, are led by Corrado Rovaris.
Il Prigionier Superbo is a three-act opera seria with six characters — two kings, two princes, two princesses. La Serva Padrona is a two-part comic intermezzo with two singing characters — master and servant. It was performed between Prigionier's acts when they bowed in 1733, as Naples theaters reopened after earthquake-forced closure. Prigionier vanished from the stage, but Serva Padrona grew popular, helped establish opera buffaand helped start a pamphlet war between Italian and French opera supporters in Paris… MARK MANDEL
Once known for his stately grand operas Gaspare Spontini posthumously surprised posterity with a light-hearted “commedia per musica” that was found at an antiquarian book dealer in England in 2006 and performed for the first time since 1800 at the Festival Pergolesi e Spontini in Jesi, Italy. With its motoric ensembles, intensifying rhythmic repetitions, and imaginative play with word fragments, La fuga in maschera anticipates Rossini at his best. Known for their historically informed performances, I Virtuosi Italiani is considered as “one of the most dynamic and able-bodied ensembles in the international musical world” (Milano Finanza).
A rare recording of Pergolesi’s second opera, a comic and colourful tale of tangled love in which three girls resist their arranged marriages in pursuit of the same young man. Rediscovered by conductor Riccardo Muti, this forgotten jewel sparkles in its 1989 period production..
A celebration of instrumental Baroque splendour! This set present an anthology of Italian Baroque composers, featuring their instrumental output. Obviously the famous composers have their fair share: Vivaldi, Albinoni, Locatelli, Corelli, but also lesser known composers are featured: Barsanti, Bassani, Veracini, Nardini, Stradella, Vitali, Mancini, Platti, Legrenze and many more, over 30 composers! Performances by leading ensembles specialized in the Historically Informed Performance Practice: L'Arte dell'Arco/Federico Guglielmo, Ensemble Cordia/Stefano Veggetti, Violini Capricciosi/Igor Ruhadze, MusicaAmphion/Pieter Jan Belder and many more. A treasure trove of solo concertos, concerti grossi, sinfonias, overtures, trio sonatas and solo sonatas from the Golden Era of the Italian Baroque, era of joy, passion and brilliance!
Baroque music is not the usual province of soprano Anna Netrebko, or contralto Marianna Pizzolato, or conductor Antonio Pappano, or the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Roma, so the listener might approach this tribute to the 300th anniversary of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi with some skepticism, but the performers do a terrific job. The orchestra uses modern instruments, so this is never going to be mistaken for a recording by Baroque specialists, but everyone involved approaches the challenge with such sensitivity and such evident excitement that listeners who don't demand absolute adherence to cutting-edge developments in early music practice are likely to be swept up.
Certainly the somber beauty of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater for soprano, alto, and strings has a lot to do with its popularity. But it must be said that the story of the 26-year-old composer completing the work on his deathbed has always been too romantic for the public–or the music business–to resist. "The instant his death was known," wrote the famous 18th-century traveler Dr. Burney, "all Italy manifested an eager desire to hear and possess his productions." And so it's been ever since. In spite of the competition already on the market, it seems Decca just had to get its prize lyric soprano and hotshot young countertenor together to record the piece. –Matthew Westphal