Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Spring glory

Two years ago we made the move from cold and snowy Alberta to the Garden City of Victoria, BC, and are now surrounded by the lovely sights, sounds and smells of a spring that seems to last from early February to May. It makes me appreciate Alessandro Scarlatti's ode to spring, La Gloria di Primavera, even more when I can open my windows wide to hear the birds and smell the flowering currant blossoms.

Red Flowering Currant, Ribes sanguineum, is a native of the Pacific North West.
This was taken in early March (!) just outside our place in Victoria.

Scarlatti wrote this serenata in 1716, and it was presented to great acclaim in Matese in Piedmont, during the celebrations surrounding the birth of the Archduke Leopold. The music is as bright and sweet and hopeful as the season; it brims with vocal athletics, sparkling accompaniments by the orchestra, and the most soulful and enticing melodies. This recording, which seems to be a premiere, is expertly performed by the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and the Philharmonia Choir, under Nicholas McGegan, along with an impressive array of soloists. This is engaged, even passionate music-making. The two-CD set will be released on April 8, 2016, and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.

This music is really quite special, and it makes me think that Alessandro Scarlatti might be the next 18th century composer to break out into a wider audience. For now, it may be only the sophisticated few who will appreciate this serenata and the broad range of other dramatic, sacred, orchestral and instrumental music by the great Neapolitan composer, but surely music of this quality cannot remain a secret too much longer.

One of the keys for the dissemination of Scarlatti will be the Creative Commons-licensed scores edited by Thomas Griffin. Check out his amazing Alessandro Scarlatti website, created in 2010 for the composer's 350th birthday.

One of my favourite pieces is the aria Fuor dell'urna le bell'onde, sung by Autunno. It has a lovely Mozartian accompaniment in the strings. Here it is, thanks to Spotify. This is gorgeous music!

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