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Alessandro Stradella: La Bellissima Speranza

Stradella / Le Concert De L'hostel Dieu
Release Date: 02/09/2010 
Label:  Ligia   Catalog #: 202158   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Alessandro Stradella
Performer:  Caroline PelonStéphanie RévidatBenoît ArnouldFranck-Emmanuel Comte,   ... 
Conductor:  Franck-Emmanuel Comte
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concerto De L'hostel Dieu (Early Music Ensemble
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 1 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



STRADELLA Aure, voi che spirate. Dialogo a due amante. Crudo mar di fiamme: “Ma pur favello indarno.” La bellissima speranza. Fulmini quanto sa. Trionfate, invitti colli. La Susanna: “Da chi spero aita.” Il novello Giasone: “Delizie, contenti”; “Dormite, occhi, dormite.” Sonata in d Franck-Emmanuel Comte, cond; Caroline Pelon, Stéphanie Révidat (sop); Benoît Arnould (bs); Le Concert de l’Hostel Dieu Read more (period instruments) LIGIA 0202158 (61:00 Text and Translation)


The lives and deaths of composers were favorite topics in the old introductions to the Baker’s Dictionary of Music penned by Nicholas Slonimsky, with a particular fascination as to how many of them managed to off themselves in shady or murky ways, if not spectacularly. Even among these, perhaps the most colorful figure was Alessandro Stradella, whose entire life is so full of joie de vivre (in very much of a Casanova vein) that he became the stuff of legend. Probably an aristocrat by birth, he was trained at the court of Queen Christina of Sweden in Rome, a place where high living and even debauchery was not unknown, even as she became a leading patron of the arts. Scandal after scandal rocked his career, and even though he became known for his progressive and well-composed music, he was forced to flee from city to city after his affairs proved difficult to accommodate even in an age of variable scruples. He finally wound up in Genoa, where rumor had it that he was assassinated one dark and stormy night by henchmen of the local chief of police after having seduced both his wife and daughter. Or that is at least one story, and regardless of whether it is true or not, it makes for a great tale, so great in fact that one can count at least four operas based upon his life, beginning in 1844 with Friedrich von Flotow.


If we take the man out of the story and concentrate on his music, what survives is an important contribution not only to the development of opera/oratorio (and here I reflect back on my colleague Lynn René Bayley’s 2008 review of his San Giovanni Battista ), but also the solo cantata and instrumental music as well. Indeed, he may have only penned a bit more than a dozen of the last, but there exist about 200 or so cantatas of all varieties and flavors, indicating that Stradella, at least, considered them his main focus. This disc presents a nice selection of some of these, with an added bonus of the six-movement da chiesa style trio sonata thrown in for good measure. Three of these are aria excerpts from larger works, including one from the oratorio La Susanna of 1681 and two from the Cavalli opera Il novello Giasone from a few years earlier. All of the works demonstrate that he was a sensitive and inventive composer, often blending recitative and aria so smoothly that the works almost seem through-composed. He is also extremely conscious of both the words and the mood his texts convey. For example, in the aria “Da chi spero aita” from La Susanna , she laments that her beauty has caused her extensive grief and that it will be the cause of her demise. It is a poignant text, and yet Stradella sets is so seductively with a languid tempo and floating vocal line that one can’t help but see a certain prophetic impulse there. In the dialogue cantata between Fidelity and Deception, the music is so integrated in terms of line and pacing that one is hard put to find the line that divides these two opposing views. Indeed, it is Deception (or Infidelity) that gets the last word, even as the two soloists interweave their melodies with each other. In the composer’s eyes, these are sides of the same coin. The trio “Trionfate, invitti colli” with its imitative lines for the two sopranos and bass is musical jousting, each twisting a passage just enough to provide musical interest and yet so integrated with elided entrances that these too depend upon a single expanded concept. There are brilliant florid lines, but these never cover or detract from the more lyrical passages or the pathos that one finds even in the recitatives.


The instrumentalists hail from Lyon and their work here is exemplary. One on a part, they provide a solid foundation for the vocal numbers, and in the sonata they are in tune and move along energetically in the fast movements, and seem to melt into each other in the slower ones. Sopranos Caroline Pelon and Stéphanie Révidat are extremely well matched, and both pay close attention to 17th-century Italian stylistic nuances, being trained in musicology as well. Pelon does occasionally scoop a high note, and Révidat does occasionally employ a slightly Spanish-sounding old-fashioned ornamentation especially in the cantata “Aure, voi che spirate.” Benoît Arnould’s bass could be a bit more flexible here, especially in the scalar passages, but he and his colleagues are always in tune both with themselves and the accompaniment. This is one disc to get (and a nice contrast to even the San Giovanni Battista produced a couple of years ago by Marc Minkowski on Hyperion; both are a step above the Bongiovanni Il Barcheggio and the discs by the so-called Alessandro Stradella Consort). If you do, you will certainly appreciate the story that a hit man let the composer live after witnessing his music being performed in church; it is time for him to come alive once more and hopefully with other works by this ensemble.


FANFARE: Bertil van Boer
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Works on This Recording

1.
La Susanna, oratorio: Aria "Da chi spero aita" by Alessandro Stradella
Performer:  Caroline Pelon ()
Conductor:  Franck-Emmanuel Comte
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concerto De L'hostel Dieu (Early Music Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1666 
Date of Recording: 04/2005 
Venue:  Église de Vitteaux 
Length: 5 Minutes 45 Secs. 
2.
Aure, voi che spirate, cantata for voice, 2 violins & continuo by Alessandro Stradella
Performer:  Stéphanie Révidat ()
Conductor:  Franck-Emmanuel Comte
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concerto De L'hostel Dieu (Early Music Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 04/2005 
Venue:  Église de Vitteaux 
Length: 6 Minutes 37 Secs. 
3.
Delizie, contenti by Alessandro Stradella
Performer:  Benoît Arnould ()
Conductor:  Franck-Emmanuel Comte
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concerto De L'hostel Dieu (Early Music Ensemble
Date of Recording: 04/2005 
Venue:  Église de Vitteaux 
Length: 3 Minutes 22 Secs. 
4.
Fulmini quanto sa quel sembiante lusinghiero by Alessandro Stradella
Performer:  Caroline Pelon (), Benoît Arnould ()
Conductor:  Franck-Emmanuel Comte
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concerto De L'hostel Dieu (Early Music Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Written: Italy 
Date of Recording: 04/2005 
Venue:  Église de Vitteaux 
Length: 1 Minutes 46 Secs. 
5.
Trionfate, Invitti colli, trio for 3 voices, 2 violins & continuo by Alessandro Stradella
Performer:  Caroline Pelon (), Benoît Arnould (), Stéphanie Révidat ()
Conductor:  Franck-Emmanuel Comte
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concerto De L'hostel Dieu (Early Music Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 04/2005 
Venue:  Église de Vitteaux 
Length: 2 Minutes 48 Secs. 
6.
Sonata in D minor, 7.2 no 1 by Alessandro Stradella
Performer:  Franck-Emmanuel Comte (Harpsichord), Flavio Losco (Violin), Roland Ulrich (Theorbo),
Roland Ulrich (Guitar), Etienne Mangot (Cello)
Conductor:  Franck-Emmanuel Comte
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concerto De L'hostel Dieu (Early Music Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 04/2005 
Venue:  Église de Vitteaux 
Length: 1 Minutes 28 Secs. 
7.
Dialogo a due amante, cantata for 2 voices, 2 violins & continuo by Alessandro Stradella
Performer:  Stéphanie Révidat (), Caroline Pelon ()
Conductor:  Franck-Emmanuel Comte
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concerto De L'hostel Dieu (Early Music Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 04/2005 
Venue:  Église de Vitteaux 
Length: 11 Minutes 56 Secs. 
8.
Crudo mar di fiamme orribili: Aria "Ma pur favello indarno" by Alessandro Stradella
Performer:  Benoît Arnould ()
Conductor:  Franck-Emmanuel Comte
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concerto De L'hostel Dieu (Early Music Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 04/2005 
Venue:  Église de Vitteaux 
Length: 3 Minutes 49 Secs. 
9.
La bellissima speranza, for 2 voices, 2 violins & continuo by Alessandro Stradella
Performer:  Benoît Arnould (), Stéphanie Révidat ()
Conductor:  Franck-Emmanuel Comte
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concerto De L'hostel Dieu (Early Music Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 04/2005 
Venue:  Église de Vitteaux 
Length: 6 Minutes 25 Secs. 
10.
Dormite, occhi, dormite, aria for voice, 2 violins & continuo by Alessandro Stradella
Performer:  Benoît Arnould ()
Conductor:  Franck-Emmanuel Comte
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concerto De L'hostel Dieu (Early Music Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1671 
Date of Recording: 04/2005 
Venue:  Église de Vitteaux 
Length: 5 Minutes 28 Secs. 

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