sabato 25 luglio 2015

Pietro Nardini - Complete String Quartets

14 tracks - MP3 192 Kbps - RAR 110Mb

Admired by Leopold Mozart and a student of Giuseppe Tartini, Pietro Nardini (1722-1793) was an outstanding violinist. The music historian, Charles Burney, preferred Nardini's playing to Paganini's. Born in Fibiana, Italy, he held positions in Stuttgart and Württemberg before returning to Italy to become the Music Director of the court at Florence upon Tartini's death. Not surprisingly, many of his compositions feature the violin as a solo instrument, and these six string quartets, the only ones he ever wrote, place the violin front and center.

Noted for his cantabile playing style, his adagios in these works reflect that preference in their aria-like treatment. Two quartets are in three movements while the other four contain only two.

Written in A Major, Quartet No.1 opens the first movement `Allegro' with the lead violin initiating a brief, sprightly canon. In the development section, most of the melodic content is distributed among the three upper voices with the cello being relegated to supplemental accompaniment, often simple repeated notes. Marked `Comodo' or moderately, a prayerful 2nd movement follows, with the members of Quartetto Eleusi using a free form rhythm that allows the phrasing to flow like the breathing patterns of a singer. Counter melodies from the 2nd violin and the viola emerge as the movement shifts into minor, with the bass providing the harmonic underpinning.

The three movement Quartet No.2 is in C Major. After presenting the initial theme over repeated staccato notes in the bass line, a rousing orchestral unison drives the opening `Allegro' before coming to a surprisingly hushed ending. Without pause, and featuring a softly undulating accompaniment in the lower strings, a minor keyed 'Adagio' serves as a mournful respite before the final open cadence. A triple metered `Allegretto' contains a counter melody in the bass, and gives the cello a more prominent role.

In B Flat, the long flowing melodic lines of the 1st violin drift in and out of minor in the 1st movement `Allegro' of Quartet No.3. The viola supplies a restless counterpoint to the songlike structure of the primary voice. A pulsing `Andante' takes its rhythmic flow from the lead violin with the viola providing the opening thematic thrust. A solo for the cello and complex violin ornamentation give this final movement more character and individuality than in the 2 earlier quartets.

Quartet No.4 is in F Major and in three movements, unexpectedly beginning with the briefest of adagios as a seamless introduction to the merry `Allegro' that ensues. Bravura solo work from the 1st violin precedes an explosion of spirited ensemble interplay. The viola followed by the 2nd violin carry the counter melody in a wonderful response to the virtuoso lead voice. A sprightly minuet closes the piece with more emphasis on secondary themes in the lower strings.

Written in G Major, the 5th Quartet opens with a cheerful `Allegro'. After being led by the 1st violin, all four voices trip down the scale in unison, setting the stage for the some virtuosic interplay among the instruments. Shifting into minor, an elegiac `Andante legato' provides a platform for the violins to soar above the lower strings before concluding in a tender whisper.

The 6th quartet is composed in E Flat, and starts with a rousing `Allegro' driven by the urgency of repeated notes in the bass line. Unlike the early quartets, here the cello takes center stage for a brief, but appealing solo. The gentle finale with an indication of `Comodo' features interweaving of countermelodies using all four voices, but with the 1st violin predominating.

Although these quartets were published as a set in 1782, the earliest ones were probably written years before, perhaps as early as 1765. They delineate Nardini's development, always with the 1st violin as the lead voice, but with increasing prominence given to the other members of the quartet. The Italian based Quartetto Eleusi performs with spirit and skill, while the recording by Brilliant Classics is quite bright, often losing the bass line behind the upper strings.

Pietro Nardini's quartets are an excellent place to become acquainted with his work. Too long a member of the pantheon of overlooked composers of the early Classical era, he deserves more than to be just another forgotten Italian.

By bejart7092 on Amazon, April 29, 2013


String Quartet No. 1 in A
String Quartet No. 2 in C
String Quartet No. 3 in B flat
String Quartet No. 4 in F
String Quartet No. 5 in G
String Quartet No. 6 in E flat

Quartetto Eleusi

giovedì 23 luglio 2015

Il Tesoro di San Gennaro

25 tracks - MP3 192 Kbps - RAR 97Mb

Sacred music in early 18th-century Naples

Antonio Florio’s deep understanding of the Baroque musical terrain of Naples now takes him to the dawn of the 18th century when the fervour and visceral excitement held by Neapolitans for their chief patron saint San Gennaro was at its height, in an era when the city had been ravaged by plague and was living in constant fear of eruptions from nearby Mount Vesuvius. Great devotion was directed at San Gennaro, in the belief that he would ward off further evils: a richly-adorned chapel in Naples’s cathedral was dedicated to him and provided with its own musical ensemble, and a stream of composers (often pupils of the great Francesco Provenzale) such as Cristofaro Caresana, Nicola Fago and Gaetano Veneziano worked there.

Central to the programme of I Turchini, prepared by Florio and Dinko Fabris, are performances of Fago’s four-part Stabat Mater and Caresana’s canzona Sirene festose. There is a rare outing also for a motet, Antra valles Divo plaudant, written by the young Domenico Scarlatti – three of whose string sinfonias are also included here – when he was one of the organists in the Real Cappella; musicians in Naples regularly moved in and out of different ensembles, then as now.

A booklet essay by Fabris himself splendidly underpins the popular traditions and musical and religious colour surrounding San Gennaro in a Naples still alive today; moreover, an evocation brought to potent life by the performances of Florio, with his singers and instrumentalists of I Turchini.


Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757)
Sinfonia a 5 in do maggiore

Cristofaro Caresana (1640-1709)
Canzona a 4 con istromenti “Per S. Gennaro"

Nicola Fago (1677-1745)
05 Confitebor a 3 con violini
Stabat Mater a 4 voci e strumenti

Domenico Scarlatti
Sinfonia a 4 in re maggiore
Antra valles Divo plaudant (mottetto a 5 voci e strumenti)

Gaetano Veneziano (1665-1716)
Jam sol recedit (inno a voce sola con violini)
Iste confessor (inno a 2 voci, 4 violini e b.c.)

Domenico Scarlatti
Sinfonia a 4 in sol maggiore

Gaetano Veneziano
Ave Maris Stella (inno a voce sola con violini)

I Turchini
Antonio Florio, direction

Valentina Varriale, soprano
Leslie Visco, soprano
Filippo Mineccia, countertenor
Rosario Totaro, tenor
Pino De Vittorio, tenor
Giuseppe Naviglio, bass