Rare live recording of a recital by Sergio Abreu and Eduardo Abreu in Rio de Janeiro, 1970
Until recently all traces of Alessandro Scarlatti’s oratorio Il martirio di Santa Cecilia had been lost. Discovered in the manuscript collection of the Fondation Martin Bodmer in Cologny, near Geneva, this oratorio which had been undiscovered for decades was immediately performed in Zurich. Karl Böhmer (the booklet author) and Oliver Mattern produced the first modern edition of the work. The interpreters on that occasion are again featured on the present recording. This sacred tragedy could rightly be termed one of the most dramatic and mature oratorios of the Roman baroque. Although there are no choruses, the action is portrayed with long recitative dialogues between the protagonists, and the music’s strongest moments come when the recitatives go over into expressive accompagnati, widely ranging ariosi, and affective arias. Like all of Scarlatti’s gloomy, fatalistic oratorios, this work culminates in bloody scenes of murder and martyrdom.
In 1739 William Boyce (1711-1779) composed his 'Ode for St. Cecelia's Day' to a text by his friend, the amateur poet, John Lockman. In writing this ode Boyce followed in the footsteps of his two chief teachers, Maurice Greene and Johann Pepusch who also wrote music in St. Cecelia's honor. However, his music is more reminiscent of Handel which is not surprising, since while the much younger Boyce was becoming prominent in London's lively music scene, Handel was the most celebrated composer of the time anywhere.