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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: 17 minutes 55 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)

Or che d'orrido Verno
composer
author of text

Or che d’orrido Verno is among Porpora’s finest chamber cantatas. It cannot be securely dated, but may have been written when the composer was active in Naples or Venice (or perhaps even Dresden), between 1725 and 1730, or else in the late 1740s. The work features a two-section sinfonia (with no tempo marking) and assigns exceptionally brilliant roles to both the singer and the concertante flute. However, the demands on virtuoso technique do not overshadow the prominent, delicately handled echoes between voice, solo instrument and string accompaniment that characterize the writing (a typical trait of the composer, here illustrated in exemplary fashion in the sensual, poignant ‘Lungi dal ben che s’ama’). Indeed, refinement, subtle interplay between the parts, and highly intensive (at times obsessive) exploitation of the thematic material were among the distinctive features of Porpora’s output in general. These elements, combined with extremely rich melodic invention, a mastery of compositional technique, and a keen sense of theatre and dramatic pacing, marked him out for a successful career. Today, after centuries of neglect, all these characteristics surge from the pages of his scores with explosive force, showing how groundless are the widespread stereotypes which portray Porpora exclusively as a skilful purveyor of bravura arias for the use of his pupils. In the aesthetics of so profound and refined a musician, virtuosity was a means to an end: his requirement of an extremely high level of technique from performers was an instrument to enable him to obtain a seductive, spellbinding naturalness of style, necessary in its turn to create for the intellect and the senses a pleasure that would ‘move the passions’.

from notes by Stefano Aresi © 2008
English: Charles Johnston

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