Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Stradella: Arias and Cantatas
Complesso Barocco Di Milano
Few composers had as colorful history as Alessandro Stradella. He took part in a scheme to embezzle money from the Catholic Church and had to flee Rome. He was an inveterate womanizer, causing not one but two families to take out a contract on him (as he hastily left town). The first group of assassins failed, the second group succeeded. It's important to remember, though, that during his lifetime Stradella was as famous for his music as he was infamous for his deeds. And this recording helps the listener understand why.
Stradella was a professional opera singer, which informed his writing for the voice. This collection features three of his solo cantatas along with a concert aria and a duet. Stradella's melodies are supple, fluid things that move gracefully with the text.
Il Complesso Barocco Di Milano performs with refreshing directness and clarity. While singers of Stradella's time might have more heavily ornamented his melodies, this ensemble chooses to let the music come through with minimal interference. The sound is a little soft and details are somewhat muted (I suspect this is a vintage analog recording).
One major drawback -- no librettos are included. Stradella's music is so closely intertwined with the text that this is a real minus, as it prevents the listener from fully appreciating Stradella's artistry. And why he was so eagerly sought after by more than just angry husbands.