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Hyperion Records

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Danae (detail) by Antonio Allegri Correggio (c1489-1534)
Galleria Borghese, Rome / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67621
Recording details: October 2006
Oratorio di S Domenico, Pisa, Italy
Produced by Sigrid Lee
Engineered by Roberto Meo
Release date: September 2008
Total duration: 11 minutes 31 seconds

'This outstanding disc not only displays unequivocal proof of Porpora's exceptional skill … but also provides some of the most genuinely enjoyable and captivating performances of eighteenth-century vocal music I have heard on disc for a very long time … these are brilliantly written recitatives, clearly, but with Fedi's clarity of diction and conviction of delivery, they are transformed into something truly exceptional. Yet to single out the recitatives, when the instrumental colouring of the arias and sinfonias is so magical, is to do a major disservice both to Porpora and to Auser Musici … here is music-making of such infectious happiness that this disc is destined to be a constant companion for the foreseeable future' (International Record Review)

'Soprano Elena Cecchi Fedi's singing is both beautiful and vocally deft, and the playing of the Italian group Auser Musici is emotionally responsive and dramatically alert to match. The opening cantata, Or sì m'avveggio, oh Amore, with its rocketing cello obligato, is particularly fine' (The Irish Times)

GiÓ la notte s'avvicina 'La pesca'
composer
Nuovamente composte opre di musica vocale, 1735; included in 12 Cantatas to his Royal Highness Frederick Prince of Wales, London, 1735
author of text

At the peak of Porpora’s London popularity there appeared an extremely successful collection of twelve cantatas (for soprano or contralto with basso continuo or obbligato harpsichord, and in certain cases a concertante instrument as well) entitled Nuovamente composte opre di musica vocale (‘Newly composed works of vocal music’). Published in an elegant edition in 1735 (neatly and accurately printed, on high-quality paper and with ample margins), these exquisite pieces were subsequently to become, from the late eighteenth century to the end of the nineteenth, the principal yardstick for assessing the composer’s style in dictionaries of music, along with the Sonate XII di violino e basso (‘Twelve sonatas for violin and bass’), the Sei duetti latini sulla Passione di Cristo (‘Six Latin duets on the Passion of Christ’), and a few sacred pieces. The high production costs of the publication were borne by Frederick, Prince of Wales, who evidently saw in this collection a fitting monument to his patronage: integrally planned and executed by a refined avant-garde composer of the calibre of Porpora, and setting unpublished texts by the greatest poet of the age (Metastasio), it epitomized the aesthetic aims which the prince championed in England in the realms of opera, poetry, and painting.

The cantatas assembled in this volume clearly display the principal features of Porpora’s compositional style at this stage in his career, notably his legendary melodic elegance, the remarkable fidelity of the music to the sentiments expressed in the text, and his skill in writing recitative, which was regarded as exemplary (more than one author described him as ‘the father of recitative’). Già la notte s’avvicina (La pesca) was included in this sumptuous publishing venture, and neatly illustrates all these stylistic features, as well as the unusual nature of the bass line in the pieces in the collection, which owes its exceptional cantabile quality to the fact that it was mostly conceived for the cello (an instrument of which the Prince of Wales was a creditable amateur exponent).

from notes by Stefano Aresi ę 2008
English: Charles Johnston

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