Stradella: Italian Arias
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Composer: Alessandro Stradella
Artists: Harmonices Mundi, Claudio Astronio (organ), harpsichord & concert master
Alessandro Stradella composed in nearly every genre – sacred and secular, and is credited with composing the first instrumental concerto grosso, and many of his operas have accompanied recitatives. Two of them also contain the earliest mad scenes. It is perhaps in his vocal works that we can hear how innovative this composer was – Stradella posessed a rare feel and insight on the texts he set. Combined with his total mastery of counterpoint which produced extraordinary interplay between vocal and instrumental parts, he stands out among his contemporaries as a literary and musical dramatist of the highest order.
The themes of the arias all concern love in its various guises – adoration, tenderness, mad passion, longing, praising beauty and physical attributes, its harshness and fickle nature, the darker side of love that leads to jealousy, rage and spite, and finally to love’s dissolution…. with perhaps a return to its embrace one day.
Although the music is over 300 years old, and the names of the poets unknown, Stradella’s music speaks to us in a thoroughly modern way. This is music of emotional depth that sounds as fresh today as it did in the late 17th century.
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