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Francesco Durante: Vespro Breve; Miserere

Durante / Sagittario Instumental Ensemble / Acciai
Release Date: 08/10/2010 
Label:  Tactus   Catalog #: 680403   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Francesco DuranteGiovanni Maria TrabaciAscanio Mayone
Performer:  Vittorio BariMilena MosconiDavide [Classical Keyboards] PozziMariangela Binetti,   ... 
Conductor:  Giovanni Acciai
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sagittario Instumental Ensemble
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 0 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

DURANTE Vespro breve. Miserere. MAIONE Toccata seconda. TRABACI Toccata secondo tono Giovanni Acciai, Antonella Arnese, cond; Davide Pozzi (org); Il Dodicino Vo Ens; Sagittario Ens; (period instruments) TACTUS 680403 (60:07 Text and Translation)

Francesco Durante (1684–1755) is one of those Neapolitan composers who tend to pop up in music history as the Read more teacher of many who were much more famous. His father was a cantor (and wool carder) and his uncle a maestro at one of the several conservatories in Naples, the Sant’Onofrio a Capuana, so it was perhaps natural that he would be trained in music, particularly for the stage. It seems, however, that his only work of this type, the Prodigii della divina miseracordia verso i divoti el glorioso Santo Antonio di Padua from 1705, flopped (one might perhaps blame that “prodigious” title), and so he apparently moved to Rome for a while to hone his skills. The next one hears of him is in 1728 when he was nominated as the primo maestro of another Neapolitan conservatory, the Conservatorio dei Poveri di Gesù Cristo. During the course of the next 20 years he managed to cage similar posts at the two other leading conservatories, becoming in essence a triple crown winner in town. Even though he unsuccessfully vied for the final jewel, the head of the Royal Capella, he was counted as a major figure in the city whose pupils, such as Pasquale Anfossi, Tommaso Traetta, and Antonio Sacchini, were destined to become international stars in the opera world of the time.

Durante was not a prolific composer, with much of his output dedicated to church music, but he did have a sort of international following. His music can be found from Madrid to Stockholm, indicating that he had a reputation that extended beyond his academic world. He was one of the first to embrace and teach the newer emerging classical style (though much of his work reflects the transitions between the contrapuntally focused Baroque style of the 1730s and the newer, more melodically defined emerging classicism). Moreover, he wrote in many genres. He has not been absent from the audio world, and a surprising amount of his music has been recorded. There is the set of eight concertos done twice, once about a decade or so ago on Capriccio with Concerto Köln, and more recently on Phoenix Edition with the same ensemble conducted by Werner Ehrhardt. The Magnificat in B?-Major appears on several discs, most recently with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra on Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, and a lovely set of Lamentations with the Collegium Cartusianum on cpo, as well as not too long ago on the Arts label. Even of the works on this disc, the Vespers were paired with the Lamentations on the last, so not all is a premiere. All of these discs are quite fine recordings, but one cannot help but notice that they are done almost exclusively by German ensembles; only the Arts seems to be with an Italian one. It is therefore with some great anticipation that I listened to this recording.

I will say right off the bat that I was not disappointed. The Sagittario instrumental ensemble and Il Dodicino vocal ensemble match each other like the gears of a fine watch. It’s a given that Durante’s vocal writing tends to rely upon fine nuance, such as the careful use of ostinato to increase tension, the playful imitation between the various vocal lines, and the sometimes colorful harmony that includes nice but fleeting dissonances. Figuration is key to the blend of homophonic lyricism and contrapuntal display, and Durante’s careful use of the voices with short, sometimes pointed motives provides the necessary contrast. This is particularly fine writing, especially in the Miserere, where the voices have no accompaniment at all apart from a basso continuo. The Vespers add a typical Italian church orchestra (we used to call it Viennese) of a pair of violins and basso, often providing counterpoint to the more homophonic choral sections. In the Laudate pueri, for example the rather tortuous line weaves a nice tapestry between the instruments and violins, while in the Magnificat, one might expect a more resounding movement. Durante, however, uses close suspensions to outline the awe of the Marian canticle, a nice use of texture. In the Miserere, the two sopranos in parallel thirds in the “Cor mundum” would be right at home with Graun or Hasse. The soloists are drawn from the small choir, only three or four to a part, and because of this, one can experience a nice integration between the concertino and tutti (to use Baroque terms) that allows for more of a vocal blending to occur than if more powerful soloists would have been used. The church where the recording took place is a dangerous one for ensembles, but it would seem that Durante’s music itself takes into account some of these acoustics, allowing them to aid the mixing, not overemphasize it. Antonella Arnese and Giovanni Acciai keep things moving along nicely, with good tempos and excellent phrasing. If you are a fan of sacred music and want to know what the Neapolitan style was all about, this one is for you. Along with the other excellent recordings by the Germans, Francesco Durante is well on his way to being more than just an entry in a lexicon.

FANFARE: Bertil van Boer
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Works on This Recording

Vespro breve by Francesco Durante
Performer:  Vittorio Bari (), Milena Mosconi (), Davide [Classical Keyboards] Pozzi (Organ),
Mariangela Binetti (), Gianpiero Mutinati ()
Conductor:  Giovanni Acciai
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sagittario Instumental Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Written: Naples, Italy 
Venue:  Chiesa di Santa Teresa dei Maschi, Bari 
Length: 3 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Miserere in C minor by Francesco Durante
Performer:  Milena Mosconi (), Gianpiero Mutinati (), Mariangela Binetti (),
Davide [Classical Keyboards] Pozzi (Organ), Vittorio Bari ()
Conductor:  Giovanni Acciai
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sagittario Instumental Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Venue:  Chiesa di Santa Teresa dei Maschi, Bari 
Length: 3 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Ricercare del secondo tono by Giovanni Maria Trabaci
Performer:  Davide [Classical Keyboards] Pozzi (Organ)
Conductor:  Giovanni Acciai
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sagittario Instumental Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Written: Italy 
Venue:  Chiesa di Santa Teresa dei Maschi, Bari 
Length: 3 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Toccata No. 2, for organ by Ascanio Mayone
Performer:  Davide [Classical Keyboards] Pozzi (Organ)
Conductor:  Giovanni Acciai
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sagittario Instumental Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Venue:  Chiesa di Santa Teresa dei Maschi, Bari 
Length: 5 Minutes 3 Secs. 

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