Early in 1709 Antonio Caldara became maestro di cappella to the Marchese Francesco Maria Ruspoli in Rome. If the appointment brought new stability to his personal life, it also inspired him to remarkable creative effort. The two cantatas recorded here afford only a brief glimpse into a veritable musical treasure chest, the legacy of the seven years he held sway over an array of entertainments given by one of Rome's most lavish patrons of the arts.
Antonio Caldara is one of those composers from Italy whose career brought him to Vienna, where he composed and performed mainly oratorios. He started his career in Venice where he was born in 1670 and where he studied with Giovanni Legrenzi. Being an accomplished cellist he was probably a member of the orchestras of the opera houses in Venice. In the 1690's he published two collections of trio sonatas, which are following the example of Corelli. His first opus, published in Venice in 1693, was again published by Roger in Amsterdam in 1698, a sign of their popularity. The chaconne which concludes his collection of 12 trio sonatas opus 2, could be interpreted as a tribute to Corelli, who also concludes his opus 2 with a chaconne.
This release marks the world-premiere recording and rediscovery of Antonio Caldara’s La Concordia de’ pianeti, a musical serenade of operatic magnitude composed for the court of Austrian Emperor Karl VI, featuring the creme de la creme of the day’s singers, including the legendary castrato Carestini (Franco Fagioli’s part).
Unearthed and edited by Andrea Marcon, the piece offers a series of virtuosic arias, breath-taking cantilenas and ethereal duets performed by some of the finest singers of today.
Franco Fagioli and Daniel Behle, two of today’s hottest vocalists, lead a distinctive cast of early music “shining stars”, including soprano Veronica Cangemi in a welcome return to Deutsche Grammophon / Archiv. The dynamic La Cetra Barockorchester, one of the most coveted period ensembles active today, lends an idiomatic touch to the program.
This is a major new release under the Archiv imprint featuring a world-class cast of singers. The opera is new to the repertoire and the catalogue altogether and has been recorded both in studio conditions and live performances in Dortmund.
The ensemble LA GIOIA ARMONICA was founded by Austrian dulcimer-player Margit Übellacker and German organist and singer Jürgen Banholzer. One of the ensemble's objectives is to explore the baroque repertoire for dulcimer, in particular in connection with the legendary pantaleon. The size of the group varies from dulcimer-organ duet to large chamber-music settings. Th e musicians are all specialised in historically-informed performance practices, and combine broad experience drawn from their involvement in various international ensembles. La Gioia Armonica's debut CD – Cantate, Sonate ed Arie, dedicated to music of Antonio Caldara – was also released by Ramée, and gained various awards, among which the Pizzicato Supersonic Award, Goldberg 5 Stars, and the Prelude Classical Award 2006 for best debut CD. Since then, the ensemble has been invited to perform in Germany and abroad, including at the Halle Händelfestspiele, the Dordrecht Bach Festival, the Middle-Germany Heinrich Schütz Days, the Bottrop Organ Plus Festival, and the Bad Homburg Fugato organ festival.
The historical-instrument ensemble Ars Antiqua Austria under violinist/conductor Gunar Letzbor has specialized in neglected repertory of the eighteenth century, and few composers fit their aims better than Antonio Caldara, a Venetian trained in the grand tradition at St. Mark's cathedral. He had a distinguished career that took him to Mantua, (perhaps) to the then-Austrian court at Barcelona, to Rome, and finally to Vienna itself, where he became vice-kapellmeister under emperor Charles VI. As with other composers in this milieu, most of his production was vocal. The 12 Sinfonie a quattro recorded here are very brief specimens of the kind of sinfonia that served as a curtain raiser for an opera or oratorio, the genre from which the independent symphony ultimately evolved. In this case the sinfonias are taken from oratorios, named in the subtitles of each work. They consist of three or four movements, many of them extremely short but not excluding counterpoint and even little fugal finales. The tone is restrained, in keeping with the religious subject matter, and the texture is pretty constant aside from a few violin solos. Combine that with the technically smooth but rather deadpan readings from Letzbor, a disciple of Reinhard Goebel and Nikolaus Harnoncourt, the result, at least for the general listener, is a very subdued hour of music in a program that would unlikely have been performed in its own time.(James Manheim)
Allegri's early Baroque masterpiece Miserere from around 1630 movingly juxtaposes modal chant with tonality, and was so popular that the Vatican refused to allow it to be performed anywhere else - until the 14 year old Mozart broke the Vatican's monopoly by writing it down from memory after attending a performance. Pergolesi's late Baroque masterpiece Stabat Mater for soprano and alto dates from 1736, the year of his death at the age of 26. It was originally written for male voices but since it's hard to find a castrato these days, it's generally performed by two women or by a female soprano and counter-tenor. This performance uses a female alto but in other respects it's very much a period performance - the sound is intimate and the tempos are lively without any sacrifice of spiritual depth. The soloists, soprano Monika Frimmer and alto Gloria Banditelli, sing beautifully without overdoing the vibrato, and their voices are well matched. The disk also contains a brief "Sonata a quattro" by Vivaldi, and another setting of the Stabat Mater, by the late Baroque composer Antonio Caldara from around 1725.(Kenneth Dorter)
… are the personages in this "Christmas Cantata" written in 1712 for performance at the Vatican. The notes with the CD suggest a burden of historical and political allusions in the libretto, quite interesting in their way but utterly imperceptible to modern ears. Really, the recitativos and arias of Caldara's Vaticini di Pace sound remarkably like Handel - the same broad but expressive melodies, the same robust instrumental accompaniment, the same treatment of the voice as a thing apart from the instruments, so unlike the hard-to-sing instrument-like vocal lines of JS Bach. To listeners of 1712, of course, it would have been vice-versa, Handel who sounded like Caldara, since Caldara was fifteen years older and well established.
The oratorio as a musical form emerged toward the end of the seventeenth century as a kind of "spiritual exercise" encouraged by the Congregazione dell'Oratorio in Rome. The performances took place in oratories (prayer halls) constructed above church naves and were intended to be attractive but edifying entertainments. Then as later, oratorios generally reflected the popular forms and styles of secular music – and in late Renaissance and Baroque Italy, this meant opera, though based on religious rather than mythological and heroic themes. The most prolific composer in this genre was Antonio Caldara (c1670-1736); New Grove lists 43 oratorios (in addition to many operas) and there are probably more that have been lost, written for patrons in his native Venice, Rome, Florence, Mantua, and Vienna.