Stradella: San Giovanni Battista

Stradella was murdered in Genoa when he was forty-two years old. Until then he enjoyed a dazzling career as a freelance composer, writing on commission, collaborating with distinguished poets, producing over three hundred works in a variety of genres. His musical style is distinctive, characterized by fluid lines, great skill in counterpoint, and harmony which was tonal but which occasionally offers chords that were unusual then and striking even today.

The oratorio San Giovanni Battista was written for performance on Palm Sunday in the Holy Year of 1675 where some fourteen oratorios were commissioned by the confraternity of the church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini in Rome—an auspicious event. San Giovanni Battista is a deeply ‘Baroque’ score, vibrant, rhythmically insistent, requiring singers to perform phrases of difficult fiorituras or deeply moving legato lines. The libretto is dramatic and emotionally vivid, and the music is closely tied to the text, creating a distinctly operatic atmosphere—described by the disc’s conductor Alessandro De Marchi as ‘a true Salome’.

Hyperion is delighted to announce a new recording relationship with Academia Montis Regalis, of which this disc is the first fruit. The group’s previous recordings on French label Opus 111 have won many international awards. The Academia Montis Regalis Foundation started its courses in Baroque and Classical orchestral training in the town of Mondovì in 1994. The aim was to offer young Italian and foreign musicians interested in the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century repertoire the opportunity to engage in a unique experience. Thus was born the Academia Montis Regalis, a period instrument orchestra that has been regularly directed by leading international early music specialists since the year of its foundation, including Ton Koopman, Jordi Savall, Christopher Hogwood, Reinhardt Goebel and many others. The principal director has for some years been Alessandro De Marchi, who has overseen an important project with the Academia Montis Regalis, recording all of Vivaldi’s manuscripts preserved in the National Library of Turin. Right from the start the training programme was accompanied by highly successful concert performances. Today the orchestra is a professional ensemble with a solid international reputation.

CDA67617  77 minutes 24 seconds
‘When you learn that Handel owned an early copy of the manuscript all the pieces begin to fall into place; here is a perfect example of the Italian manner that was to influence him so fundamentally ...
‘Stradella's score, characterized by constant variety, is ravishing throughout … the whole band plays with tremendous panache and stylistic aplomb’ (International Record Review)
‘Stradella is probably more famous for having been murdered … than for his music. That's a pity, for the latter, vital, free-flowing and bold, is well worth exploration. The oratorio San Giovanni ...