PROJECTS & CONCERT PROGRAMS
“Naples is the capital of the musical world”, wrote Charles de Brosses in one of his letters from Italy written in 1739/40. He also wrote “Naples is the sole Italian city that seems truly a capital…” and this is not an exaggeration: it was the largest city in seventeenth century Europe, only exceeded by Paris in the eighteenth century.
The first decades of the 18th century saw a relative boom of instrumental works composed by Neapolitans for the recorder. Such a wealth of music - of which the vast majority came down to us only in manuscript form - is all the more surprising when considering that almost all the composers that make up this special repertoire were primarily opera composers.
The program ‘Dolce Napoli’ is devoted to a wealth of interesting and still largely unknown sinfonias, concerti and sonatas written in Naples in the first decades of the 18th century. The composers included here represent the crème de la crème of Neapolitan musical life in the Baroque period.
'Et in Arcadia ego: Händel in Italy'
Händel’s stay in Italy between 1706 and 1709 had a profound impact on his development as a composer and provided him with life-lasting inspiration for his chamber music, operas and oratorios. With a keen spirit, he truly absorbed the Italian style and wisely explored the creative freedom his patrons allowed him. Prince Ruspoli was an enthusiastic Arcadian, and in fact, most of Händel’s Italian patrons were active members of the Roman Accademia dell’Arcadia, which held the recorder as a symbol of idyllic simplicity. Ruspoli had already hosted “Gioacomo Hotteterre” as “maestro di flauto” between at least 1698 and 1700. It may have been with these echoes in mind that around ten years after his Italian sojourn Händel composed his six recorder sonatas, later to be published by Roger in Amsterdam and subsequently by Walsh in London.
The program 'Et in Arcadia ego' explores works by the composers that surrounded Händel's years in Italy: father and son Scarlatti, Corelli, Hotteterre and il caro sassone himself.
1759. J. S. Bach had died 9 years earlier. Telemann's last publication for the recorder had been in 1740. The recorder was slowly but surely retiring from the public eye. But here and there the instrument was kept breathing.
1759 in Naples. A handful of recorder sonatas is copied, surely written at least 20 years earlier. La Cicala brings these back to life in a world-premiere, 250 years later.
La Cicala is grateful for support from the Eudemonist Society for the recording of their second CD.
'La Voce di Partenope'
The cantatas written in the Neapolitan language during the years of Spanish domination are a key symbol of Naples' own prevailing culture. In these cantatas, one often finds traces of daily life, for example in Porsile’s “Cantata sopra l’arcicalascione”, where the text speaks of a fisherman singing with his ‘calascione’ by the seashore. Or of historical dramatic events, such as the emotional lament sung by the wife of Tommaso Aniello (1622- 1647), the fisherman who led the revolt against the heavy taxing imposed by the ruling Spanish Habsburg in Naples in 1647, and was brutally killed as a consequence.
Next to ‘art music’ produced for the aristocratic circles, traditional music has always been very present in Neapolitan culture, deeply ingrained in the social history and traditions of its people. It is in fact this southern traditional music that identifies Italy to our modern years. ‘La Voce di Partenope’ is dedicated to the vocal music produced in Naples in the Baroque period, inspired by the sea and the beauty of traditional melodies of Southern Italy.
Featuring soprano Stefanie True, this program is entirely dedicated to the prominent Neapolitan composer Giuseppe Porsile (5 May 1680-29 May 1750), and offers a sampling of his vocal and instrumental chamber works. Porsile followed a career path from his native city to Barcelona at the end of 1707, and then to Vienna, where he served the Habsburg Emperor Charles VI for nearly three decades before retiring during the reign of Empress Maria Teresia.
The last cantata in this program (E già tre volte sorse) was the point of departure for this project, which finally comes to fruition thirteen years after it was originally conceived: Porsile’s poignant writing in the aria “Alla sorte che m’era si dura” sparked Inês d'Avena's interest in his output and the wish to explore it further already in 2006. Alongside some of his best hits are a newly reconstructed sonata and cantatas recorded now for the first time.