The slaying of Abel by his brother Cain was one of the favourite subjects of the 18th century Italians, at the time when the oratorio was having a phenomenal success in Rome and Venice. It was most probably in one of the palaces of the “Serenissima”, and not a church, that Scarlatti first performed this astonishing “sacred entertainment”, worthy of a “verismo” opera, in 1707… God and Lucifer confront each other in the very soul of Cain, his brother’s voice is heard from heaven, and the “spatial” treatment of the tonal levels all contribute to the effectiveness of what is almost expressionistic music – there is nothing left out of this incredible Baroque Biblical “thriller”!
The edition for this premiere recording has been made by Karl Böhmer, who has provided an informative introductory essay, and Oliver Mattern. Gérard Lesne has made something of a speciality of Scarlatti’s music and his lively direction of Sedecia benefits from his fluent handling of dramatic and stylistic aspects of the work…A splendid achievement. (BBC Music Magazine)
After being kept in relative obscurity the music of Alessandro Scarlatti is making a glorious come back, and is recognised as at least as innovative, brilliant and profound as the music of his son, the famous Domenico Scarlatti. These “12 sinfonie di concerto grosso” are concertante works, either for a variety of solo instruments (concerto grosso) or for solo recorder and strings. These are delightful baroque concertos, brimming with energy, Italian charm and gusto. Played by Early Music group Capella Tiberina on historical instruments, Corina Marti is the recorder soloist, who already excelled in her recording of the Mancini recorder concertos on Brilliant Classics (BC 94324).
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.
Per la musicologia italiana Il martirio di Sant'Orsola di Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725) – il grande padre del grandissimo Domenico – questo Oratorio è degno di due soli dati, relativi alla (prima) esecuzione: il luogo, Lione, e l'incerta data, 1695-1700. È poco, ma è quello che passa il convento. Le ragioni di questa bella registrazione consistono nella presenza del manoscritto della partitura nella Biblioteca municipale di Lione, che conserva l'Oratorio con il congenere Davidis pugna et victoria di poco posteriore.Lasciata la natia Palermo da ragazzo…
Scarlatti's cantatas are veritable miniature operas in which 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 unite in an inventive spirit of virtuoso rivalry, laying bare the passions of the soul.
"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
One of the foremost musical artists performing today, William Bennett has raised the profile of the flute to that of an instrument capable of a wide range of tonal colours, dynamics, and expression, giving it the depth, dignity, and grandeur of the voice or a string instrument.