For "La forza del destino", Verdi created one of his most famous melodies, the "fate" motif that permeates the whole of the score. Music and action alternate in masterly fashion between large-scale crowd scenes and intimate interiority, in that way illustrating Verdi's real theme: the manner in which fallible human beings are destroyed by a cruel fate.
Galuppi was a very accomplished composer and harpsichord player by the age of twenty with a reputation in both Venice and Florence. He was a pupil of Marcello and played for Vivaldi. He composed many serious and comic operas as well as much sacred and keyboard music. During his 79 years he travelled to St Petersburg and was well-known to the Tsar‘s family. He collaborated with the famous Italian playwright Goldoni in many projects. Goldoni‘s epigram on Galuppi: “What music! What style! What masterworks!”
First performed at the Burgtheater in Vienna in 1776 La passione di nostro Signore Gesu Cristo is a work of Salieri’s early maturity. It’s a passion oratorio but one that gorges on operatic convention to make its powerfully dramatic points. If it’s further to be anatomised, the traditional recitative-aria and solo and chorus block voicings also faithfully follow operatic form and so Azione sacra is as good a term as oratorio to describe Salieri’s work.
This is a genuinely heart warming recital of chamber music from the latter part of the 17th century by the north German masters Johann Adam Reinken and Dietrich Buxtehude, both among the influences on the young J.S. Bach. The two were great friends and shared compositional tastes. Melody is not the issue here, neither is the extroverted passion of Italian composers of the period. This is more the animated conversation of friends sitting around the fire discussing various topics after a good meal.
Charles Burney described Johann Adolf Hasse, his contemporary, as ‘the most natural, elegant and judicious composer of vocal music, as well as the most voluminous now alive…’ His output includes 63 operas, but only two are currently recorded, yet inexplicably this is the second Piramo, albeit markedly livelier and with the bonus of its two ballet suites. Schneider’s perceptive booklet note comments that too readily we find such composers immature – ‘almost like Mozart’, rather than excitingly expressive and individual. Here even the subtitle Intermezzo tragico is novel, implying a fusion of two traditions, comic and serious. The music is equally unconventional. Recitatives slip seamlessly into and out of arias, creating a strong sense of dramatic continuity. Colours are imaginative: flutes and bassoons paint a beautiful description of Piramo’s Utopia; natural horns roar rudely as the lion approaches – though he proves a rather likeable beast in his subsequent sinfonia. The performance is excellent. Monoyios, a gentle Tisbe, floats effortlessly in melting vocalises; Schlick’s Piramo contrasts, yet matches in their love duets; while Jochens, the domineering father, confirms in his remarkably jolly suicide aria that the final tragico stage, littered with the corpses of all three characters, is not to be taken too seriously.-George Pratt