Alessandro Scarlatti wrote over 600 cantatas, two of which are on this 1987 disc performed by soprano Lynne Dawson and the Purcell Quartet: Correa nel seno amato and Già lusingato appieno. He wrote considerably less keyboard music – and next to nothing compared with the gargantuan achievement of his son Domenico – one of which is on this disc performed by Robert Woolley, the harpsichordist of the Purcell Quartet: the Variations on La Folia. With the chamber cantatas flanking the keyboard variations, this disc is a wonderful program of the elder Scarlatti's art. Though there are some who might argue English soprano Dawson is perhaps too reserved for this repertoire, none would argue that she doesn't have a clear voice and a supple technique. And while there are others who might argue the Purcell Quartet is perhaps too stringent for the repertoire, none would argue they don't play together with consummate ease and they don't accompany Dawson with brilliant mastery. But there are few who would disparage Woolley's blindingly virtuosic and blazingly demonic La Folia Variations.
The music for harpsichord has been considered an inexplicable chance occurrence in Alessandro Scarlatti's output, and in assessing it, we should avoid unfair and unappropriate comparisons with the work of his exceptionally gifted son. Alessandro's cultural background was quite different and very precise in the way it affected keyboard music: Frescobaldi was the first in a series of figures who are known to a greater or lesser extent today and whose teaching came down to Scarlatti in a solid stylistic tradition. Pasquini, his extremely diligent and prolific contemporary, the last of the line, was strongly motivated by his patron, the Prince Borghese in writing harpsichord music. Alessandro also wished to try his hand in this area. 250th Anniversary Release. On the occasion of the 350th anniversary of Alessandro Scarlatti's birth (Palermo, 2 May 1660), Arcana is re-releasing this anthology of toccatas and fugues by the elder Scarlatti, father of the better-known Domenico.
"…This is the only complete recording that I know of this work. It was recorded in 1992 for Symphonia, and probably did not have a great deal of circulation on that less well-known label. (…) If you don’t have the original release in your collection, this is definitely the one you should get. It is an outstanding recording that has certainly stood the test of time." ~Fanfare
"The Accademia Bizantina under conductor and keyboardist Ottavio Dantone is one of a number of young Italian historical-instrument groups that have been revolutionizing the world of Baroque instrumental music performance. (…) The fugues are fast, intense, and dramatic, with wide dynamic range gaining momentum toward a climax. Perhaps the most satisfying of all are the cello sonatas under the care of Baroque cellist Mauro Valli, you get the feeling in the slow movements that you're hearing the Baroque cello, still an acquired taste for many listeners, take on its proper sound as its bendable tones connect with highly expressive lines. An excellent release…" ~AMG
Il Martirio di Sant'Orsola was probably written and sung in Rome between 1695 and 1700. The identification of the author of the libretto and the circumstances of composition remain unknown. The handwritten score and its separate parts, preserved in the Bibliothèque Municipale de Lyon and returned here, is indeed the only European version of the work. It was copied for the Academy of Fine Arts of Lyon to which it belonged, probably by amateurs bringing back from their travels many works, as evidenced by the importance of the Italian music in the funds Lyons. The orators of Scarlatti were played from 1718 to 1731 at the Academy.
Scarlatti's cantatas are veritable opera miniatures in wich his writing for the voice, highlights the expressive powers of the various affects of love : love the pleasure-seeker, love the tyrant, love the traitor and love the combatant. Voice and instruments are unite in an inventive spirit of virtuoso rivalry, laying bare the passions of the soul.
Alessandro Scarlatti formed the bridge between the rich vocal style of the Italian Baroque masters of the 17th century and the gallant style of Mozart and his contemporaries. San Filippo Neri is grand and Oratorio in Handelian style, full of dramatic arias and striking instrumental effects. Excellent performance on authentic instruments by the specialist group Alessandro Stradella Consort, conducted by Estevan Velardi.
With this exciting release, Fabio Biondi, the outstanding Europa Galante, and a cast led by stars Véronique Gens and Vivica Genaux strike a decisive blow for Alessandro Scarlatti's obscure Oratorio per la Santissima Trinità. Old-fashioned even in its day, the work is a musicalized instructional debate about the mysteries of the Holy Trinity between the allegorical personae of Faith, Theology, Faithlessness, Time, and Divine Love. If you're asleep already, it's for good reason. The libretto is the definition of dry – boring both for its rhetorical contrivance and its verbosity. But before you run for the nearest exit, know that Scarlatti responded to this uninspired mess of ideological bickering with outstanding music, entertaining from beginning to end. Drawing only on a small ensemble of strings and continuo, he created an improbably diverse-sounding score full of infectious rhythms, appealing vocal melodies, and rich textures. The recitatives are lavished with the same melodic care and detail as the arias and ensembles, and the personality of each character is etched into his music. Listening, one might think the plot revolves around a love affair, or a social intrigue. Certainly not wave upon wave of phrases like "One cannot believe it, but only raise one's eyebrows in stupefaction." In other words, if you can ignore the text it's an immensely fun listen, and a great example of the stylistic fluidity of Scarlatti's music in 1715.
By the eighteenth century, Palermo-born Alessandro Scarlatti was the most widely performed Italian composer of vocal music having written more than sixty operas and well over a hundred cantatas. The cantata, more concentrated than opera, was considered at that time as the higher artistic form. Scarlatti was extremely prolific and many of his works including cantatas still remain unrecorded.