Benvenuti in Elegia Classics

Esule dalle sfere - Chi resiste al Dio bendato

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Elecla 20084
Format: 1 CD
Sales price 14,50 €
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Accademia del Ricercare,
Pietro Busca, conductor
Massimo Altieri,tenor
Gianluigi Ghiringhelli, countertenor
Enrico Bava,
Mauro Borgioni, baritone
Lucia Cortese, Paola Valentina Molinari, sopranos


Alessandro Stradella (1644-1682)


Cappella del Seminario di Vercelli (VC), Italy

About this album

Together with Caravaggio, Alessandro Stradella is one of the most fascinating figures of the Italian Baroque era, not just in virtue of an outstanding talent, but also for a tormented life spent in constant fleeting, that contributed to make him very much alike to a protagonist of a modern day novels. Like the famous painter, Stradella died still young at age 38, killed by a knife wound inflicted to him from the hired assassins sent by Giovan Battista Lomellini, a nobleman from Genoa that thus intended to avenge the honor of his sister who – according to his views – the composer had seduced while giving her music lessons. This tragic epilogue brusquely ended a vast musical production that included at the time eight dramas and comedies in music, six sacred Oratorios – that many consider to be among the greatest works of the composer from Nepi – and a large collection of cantatas, both of spiritual and profane character. One of the most emblematic aspects of the style of Stradella is his spirited and vibrant sense of theater that finds full expression in the works conceived for theater representation as well as in works written for performance in private spaces like the cantatas. In the context of sacred music, these often reach intense and brilliant tones that underline with impressive effectiveness the affetti in the text. A work of Stradella maturity, Esule dalle sfere was written in 1680 for the festivity of All Saints Day on a noteworthy text by Pompeo Figari, a priest originally from Rapallo who showed to possess a good literary talent. This quality allowed him to be in among the founders of the Academy of Arcadia in Rome in 1690 and to be admitted to the restricted circles of Pope Clement XI. Written in a purely didactic context, this cantata opens with Lucifer (bass), who expresses all of his rage for having been relegated to the shady atmosphere of Hell and states his will to make the punishment for the souls of Purgatory (chorus) as bitter as possible. After a long and painful path of purification, the souls are destined to reach Heaven. The desperate Purgatory souls ask for mercy, and in the end the Archangel Gabriel (soprano) grants it to them and opens wide the doors of Paradise, that will instead always remain forbidden to Lucifer and his acolytes, who are guilty of daring to place themselves on the same level as God. After a short section in which the importance of the prayers of the living for the eternal salvation of the deceased is explained, the Oratorio ends with jubilant themes underlined by the verse «After a brief sorrow, eternal is the bliss». From the musical standpoint, Esule dalle sfere presents an excellent characterization of the “negative” protagonist, without the bombastic excesses that can be noticed in many works of the last part of the 17th Century. It is supported by brilliant and often virtuosic writing and by an intense dramatic atmosphere that lightens up only in the final chorus with the jubilant souls that are finally saved. Altogether different, the cantata Chi resiste al dio bendato was also composed in the last phase of the creative production of Stadella, and it is centered on the ever-present amorous theme that in this work is declined in happy and luminous tones. In this instance, we do not find ourselves in front of a scene of theatrical nature, but in front of a “love discourse”. This finds its full expression in the final soprano aria «He who lives with love, lives blissfully», preceded by a lively tarantella. From the standpoint of musicology, this cantata is of great importance since in the autograph manuscript the division of the instrumental ensemble between concertino and concerto grosso is clearly indicated, and these were the elements that two decades later were brought to perfection by Arcangelo Corelli in his Opus 6. The scarcity of theatrical aspects of the poetic text translates into a distended, melodious and expressive writing, without excessively virtuosic passages, almost as if Stradella feared that music that was too lively could disturb the serenity of a love fable.

Additional info about this CD
Recorded: on 27th, 28th, 29th February 2020, in Cappella del Seminario di Vercelli (Italy)
18 pages full colour booklet (Ita and Eng)
Artist biography
Musicology comment



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