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Porpora: Cantatas / Stefanowicz, Ensemble Club Europa

Porpora / Stefanowicz / Ensemble Club Europa
Release Date: 02/26/2013 
Label:  Cd Accord   Catalog #: 183   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Nicolo PorporaJohann Goldberg
Performer:  Artur StefanowiczDorota Cybulska-Amsler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Club Europa
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



PORPORA Cantatas: Abbandonato e solo; Ecco che il primo albore; Destatevi o pastori; Oh, se fosse. GOLDBERG Sonata per il cembalo Dorota Cybulska-Amsler, cond; Artur Stefanowicz (ct); Club Europa Ens (period instruments) ACCORD 183 (61:57 Text and Translation)


This disc is the result of a broadcast from Polish State Radio back in 2008 and is now made available after five years of Read more resting in the radio archives. Countertenor (OK, male alto) Artur Stefanowicz has quite a résumé for his extensive work as a student of the estimable Paul Esswood, with recordings by many of the best period-instrument groups in Europe. He has not, however, forgotten his roots, for he also spends much time in his native Poland, performing a recording for groups there, as well as teaching at the Chopin Conservatory. Dorata Cybulska-Amsler has had an equally successful career with Chiara Banchini in Italy, and although she currently teaches in Geneva, her partnering with Stefanowicz for these cantatas is meant to show the vibrancy of the early-music movement in her native country. For this outing, they have chosen some of the smaller chamber cantatas for alto voice and various instruments by Nicola Porpora, whose music has been more and more available as one of the main figures in Italy of the late Baroque and early Classical periods.


The four works here were chosen deliberately from two periods of his life. The first two are from his early years in Naples at the beginning of the 18th century. They have a somewhat old-fashioned sense about them. One is reminded instantly of Alessandro Scarlatti in their form and structure (pairs of recitatives followed by arias). Occasionally he breaks the expected mold, for example in the highly melismatic aria “La percorella contenta pasce” from Ecco che primo albore , which has turns of lines that sound almost like they were taken from Henry Purcell. The recitatives are brief expostulatory interludes with little substance, but already Porpora demonstrates that he knows the extent and ability of the alto voice. The second pair is taken from his op. 1 from 1735, in which Porpora was already moving in the direction of the galant style. The opening recitative “Destatevi,” for instance, begins with a skirling string line and a more fluid vocal part that interacts as a partner. The following aria, “Nei campi,” is a nice compound meter pastoral movement, replete with a rocking rhythmic foundation. The vocal part is rather more sedate, with the vocalises somewhat restrained. This makes the rather tortuous line (after a suspenseful sustained opening note) more effective in its meandering. Silvio the shepherd may be a desperate lover in the text, but Porpora is able to convey a sense of urgency, even in the cursory B section. This makes the final cantata for voice and continuo seem rather paler in comparison. About the odd four-movement sonata by Johann Gottlieb Goldberg (1727-1756), little can be said other that it reflects stylistically the halfway house of his teacher, Wilhelm Friedmann Bach, with its sometimes strange voice-leading but largely galant style. It consists of three normal movements, into which oddly enough a minuet with several variations has been inserted. The music seems mostly to consist of various motivic sequencing. In the variations, however, he veers off course to include some rather distinctive harmonies, as well as some variations that are highly chromatic. This returns in the almost frantic Presto , where the perpetual motion melodic line weaves in and all about with odd chromatic inflections before coming to a raucous close.


Given that Porpora wrote almost 150 of these chamber cantatas, these represent only a tithe of what may yet be to come, if some enterprising artist decides to do a complete edition. If that artist were Artur Stefanowicz, one would be quite gratified, for he demonstrates skill and precision with the interpretation of the music. His pitch is excellent and he partners rather than dominates his accompaniment, which is as it should be. Cybulska-Amsler’s continuo playing is an equal to the voice, and in the Goldberg sonata actually manages to make music that is somewhat predictably intriguing. The notes are mainly in Polish, with texts also in the original Italian and in English, so one wonders if this was meant primarily for a home audience, but it is not difficult to follow along. For those following the slow rise in the fortunes of Porpora, Joseph Haydn’s teacher, in the current discography, this is one disc that will entertain and demonstrate the variety that the elder composer had at hand. It will be a delightful addition to the collection, though with the caveat that, however expert the performance, such chamber works written by their dozens may be acquired tastes.


FANFARE: Bertil van Boer
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Works on This Recording

1.
Oh se fosse il mio core by Nicolo Porpora
Performer:  Artur Stefanowicz (Counter Tenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Club Europa
Period: Baroque 
Written: Italy 
2.
Ecco che il primo albore by Nicolo Porpora
Performer:  Artur Stefanowicz (Counter Tenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Club Europa
3.
Destatevi, o pastori by Nicolo Porpora
Performer:  Artur Stefanowicz (Counter Tenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Club Europa
Period: Baroque 
Written: Italy 
4.
Abbandonato e solo by Nicolo Porpora
Performer:  Artur Stefanowicz (Counter Tenor)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Club Europa
5.
Sonata for Harpsichord by Johann Goldberg
Performer:  Dorota Cybulska-Amsler (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 

Sound Samples

Abbandonata e sola: Recitative:
Abbandonata e sola: Aria: Qui le selve
Abbandonata e sola: Recitative: Ahi che la fiamma ardente
Abbandonata e sola: Aria: Lontan da te
Ecco che il primo albore: Sinfonia
Ecco che il primo albore: Recitative:
Ecco che il primo albore: Aria: La pecorella contenta
Ecco che il primo albore: Recitativo: Pastor gentil
Ecco che il primo albore: Aria: Se andra senza il Pastore
Sonata per il cembalo: I. Allegro
Sonata per il cembalo: II. Menuet con variazioni
Sonata per il cembalo: III. Andante
Sonata per il cembalo: IV. Presto
Destatevi, destatevi, O pastori: Recitative: Destatevi, destatevi o pastori
Destatevi, destatevi, O pastori: Aria: Nei Campi e nelle selve
Destatevi, destatevi, O pastori: Recitative: Tornero fra le gregge
Destatevi, destatevi, O pastori: Aria: Silvio amante disperato
Oh se fosse il mio core: Recitative:
Oh se fosse il mio core: Aria: Se lusinga
Oh se fosse il mio core: Recitative: Mi fa barbara e ingrata
Oh se fosse il mio core: Aria: Sento pietade

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