Notes and Editorial Reviews
NEAPOLITAN FLUTE CONCERTOS,
Carlo Ipata (fl, cond); Auser Musici (period instruments)
HYPERION 67884 (62:16)
Flute Concerto in D.
Flute Concerto in G.
Flute Concerto in G.
Flute Concerto in G.
Flute Concerto in G
This is the second volume of the
Neapolitan Flute Concertos
, evidently now a series that will probably record all of the concertos that are extant in Naples from the 18th century. I mentioned in my earlier review (
34:1) a preference for perhaps the numerous oboe concertos composed in Naples, but of course more flute concertos (perhaps in sequential discs, as well) will do nicely.
The majority of the composers on this disc have retreated rather far from the mainstream of music history, so that information is often lacunar and their music all but unknown. There are two exceptions. The first is David Perez (1711–1778), who emigrated to Lisbon after a successful career as a Neapolitan composer. Indeed, he was often spoken of in the same breath as Giovanni Pergolesi, with his operas being performed there and in Palermo. The second is Carlo Cecere (1706–1761), who was known for his ability as a violinist and composer of
. He was particularly adept at composing concertos, and I suppose that he might deserve the appellation of the Vivaldi of Naples on that account (and no qualitative or comparative judgment is meant here). Antonio Palella (1692–1761) was of course from an older generation, serving as an arranger for Johann Adolf Hasse and having a career writing works for performance in the private theaters of Neapolitan aristocrats, though he also served in the continuo group as harpsichordist at the Teatro San Carlo. Not surprisingly, his concerto recorded here also has an attribution to Hasse, which makes his authorship somewhat tenuous. Of the other two, nothing is known about Signore Geraso (not even his first name), nor have we any real information about Francesco Papa, both of whom seem to have been ordinary musicians in Naples around 1740 or thereabouts. The works in this disc are scored in a typical Neapolitan fashion, with a highly virtuoso flute part accompanied by a bare minimum orchestra of a pair of violins and continuo, here performed one on a part by Auser Musici.
All of the concertos, with the exception of the Perez, are in the typical three-movement pattern, and the usual tempo arrangement points to a close affinity with the emerging sinfonia of the period, which is not uncommon in a center of Italian opera. The exception is the Perez Concerto, which conforms oddly enough to the four-movement baroque sequence. The booklet notes seem to think that the music of this work parallels that of Pergolesi, but I find it far more anachronistic stylistically. The opening
, for instance, has a series of Lombardic rhythms that sound more like Georg Philipp Telemann than Pergolesi, and the third movement is a mournful
that also mimics that composer’s work. The Cecere Concerto also has more than a hint of Telemann in the fluid
second movement, but the first seems to point more to a typical Neapolitan pattern, with nicely compartmentalized themes and some harmonic interest where the theme suddenly appears in the minor key. The third movement is a vibrant minuet with rollicking triplets in the flutes and strings, providing some nice rhythmic interest. Of the works of the two unknowns, both concertos display a good, competent sense of writing. The second movement of the Geraso is quite effective, a ghostly presence of the flute above a lone violin, while the first also has a duet with the violin featuring some rather distinctive octave leaps for the flute. The second movement of the Papa goes from a
, with the flute more plaintive and the violin response in the major key quite gentle. His unisons in the third movement can best be described as Vivaldian, and the sequencing seems to mimic to my ear the well-known flute concertos of that composer. As for the Palella, I am not entirely convinced of the authorship of either composer to whom it is attributed, particularly since it seems stylistically unlike the concerto I reviewed in the first volume of this series. The first movement is also quite Vivaldian, but when the flute enters with lovely parallel thirds sequences with the first violin, one is transported to the world of early
. The second movement opens with a
-like main theme, but soon the Germanic Lombardic rhythms begin to predominate. The unisons of the third and the use of rising sequences could be either Neapolitan or German, so I’m on the fence with this one (the only one that has been recorded previously under Hasse’s name).
As for the performances, Auser Musici’s spare accompaniment often makes the works sound more like chamber compositions, and one sometimes longs for a little more depth in the ritornellos. On the other hand, the use of a single first violin in the numerous duets with the flute provides an intimacy that is hard to beat. The one quibble is that the continuo harpsichord can sound a bit tinny at times, but in terms of tempo and intonation, the musicians are all spot on. The flute playing by Carlo Ipata is superb, bringing out the phrases and often sequential lines with skill and precision. These concertos are not of course displays of extreme virtuosity, but for that there needs to be a special attention paid to musicality, which Ipata provides with a nice, rich tone and an eye towards how he integrates with his accompaniment, particularly the violin. In short, this disc is every bit to the same excellent standard as the first volume. As Cecere wrote a fair number of flute concertos, and certainly there are many more in the Neapolitan archives, I for one am looking forward to the next installment. This is a terrific sequence that would grace any collection.
FANFARE: Bertil van Boer
Works on This Recording
Be the first to review this title