ARIOSTI: 6 Cantatas / LOCATELLI: Trio Sonata in E minor / VIVALDI: Trio Sonata in D major (Laurie Reviol/ Musica Solara/ Truike van der Poel) (Naxos: 8.557573)
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Attilio Ariosti (1666-1729)
Six Cantatas (1724)
Attilio Ariosti was born in Bologna in 1666 into anillegitimate branch of a noble family. He joined theServite order in 1688, taking his vows and lower ordersthe following year, to be ordained deacon in 1692. He leftthe monastery in 1696 and entered the service of theDuke of Mantua and Monferrato. His earliercompositions had included, in 1693, the oratorio Lapassione, and 1696 brought the first performance of hispastoral opera Tirsi, with a libretto by Apostolo Zeno, atCarnival in Venice. The following year he went to Berlinat the request of Sophie-Charlotte, Queen of Prussia, agreat-granddaughter of James I of England and daughterof the Electress Sophie of Hanover, an enlightenedpatroness of the arts, with a keen interest in music.
Ariosti, who enjoyed the particular favour of the Queen,wrote or collaborated in the writing of a number of stageworks performed for the court in Berlin.
Service at a Protestant court led Ariosti's religioussuperiors to recall him to Italy, but he delayed hisdeparture, and on his way back spent time in Vienna,where he provided in 1703 a poemetto drammatico forthe name-day of the Emperor Leopold I, La pi?? gloriosafatica d'Ercole (The Most Glorious Labour of Hercules).
His connection with the Habsburg court continued, withthe office of minister and agent to all the courts of Italy,bestowed by the Emperor Joseph I. In 1708 he returnedto Vienna, but on the death of the Emperor in 1711 hefound himself banned for religious reasons from allAustrian territories by the Empress, who asked the Popeto have him expelled from his order. It is not clearwhether this last actually happened.
By 1716 Ariosti was in London, where he played theviola d'amore at performances of Handel's operaAmadigi di Gaula. His own opera Tito Manlio was stagedthere in 1717, and he continued to write for the stage, hisname joined with those of Handel and Bononcini. AnAmerican writer of the time distinguishes the particularqualities of each, suggesting that Ariosti can giveexpression to 'good Dungeon Scenes, Marches for aBattel, or Minuets for a Ball, in the Miserere' (quoted byChristopher Hogwood: Handel, 1984). The 'dungeonscenes' seem to allude to Ariosti's most successful workfor the London stage, Coriolano, the prison scene inwhich is praised by Sir John Hawkins as 'wrought up tothe highest degree of perfection that music is capable of'.
The opera Vespasiano, staged in 1724, contained notonly a diplomatic preponderance of arias for AnastasiaRobinson, soon secretly to marry the Earl ofPeterborough, but provides evidence of the othercharacteristics noted above; one performance of theopera caused an uproar, when Anastasia Robinsonobjected to the too close proximity on stage of thecastrato Senesino, leading to the violent intervention ofher elderly beau. Mainwaring, in his 1760 Memoirs of theLife of the late George Frederic Handel indulges in animaginative account of Ariosti's earlier acquaintancewith Handel in Berlin, when he showed the latter muchkindness, encouraging him to play the harpsichord andseating him on his knee. It was in 1724 that Ariostipublished his Six Cantatas and a collection of six lessonsfor the viola d'amore, dedicated to King George I,brother of Queen Sophie-Charlotte who had died in 1705at the early age of 36. The work attracted a distinguishedlist of royal and noble subscribers, fraudulently included,if Sir John Hawkins's later report is to be believed.
Ariosti's contribution to the repertoire of the violad'amore is extensive, including a large number of sonatasand other compositions for the instrument. His final yearsbrought less success, with the apparent failure of the lastopera with which he was concerned, Teuzzone, in 1727.
He died in London in early September, 1729.
The composers of the trio sonatas here included needless introduction. The trio sonata itself, a form that owedmuch to the example of Arcangelo Corelli, a leadingItalian composer of the preceding generation, generallyinvolves four players, two performers on melodyinstruments, most often two violins, and a chordalaccompaniment on a keyboard or plucked instrument,with a bass line contributed by an instrument of suitableregister, most usually the cello or viola da gamba. It oftenreflects the pattern of the concerto grosso.
Pietro Antonio Locatelli was born in Bergamo in1695. He was employed there as a violinist at the Basilicaof Santa Maria Maggiore, before being sent to Rome,where he was able to study with Corelli's discipleGiuseppe Valentini, a composer and violin virtuoso, andto work together with other musicians of Corelli's circleunder the patronage of Cardinal Ottoboni. His first set ofconcerti grossi was published in Amsterdam in 1721. Heseems to have spent time in Venice and in 1725 wasgiven the title virtuoso da camera in the service ofVivaldi's patron, Landgrave Philipp of Hessen-Darmstadt, Habsburg ruler of Mantua. He spent thefollowing period at various courts in Germany, includingBerlin. In 1729 he settled in Amsterdam, where he wasable to take advantage of the city's effective musicpublishingbusiness to arrange for the publication of hisown works, remaining there until his death in 1764. Hispublished compositions include a set of trio sonatas,Opus 5, issued in 1736.
Antonio Vivaldi, a native of Venice, where he wasordained priest, for years intermittently directed themusic of the famous Ospedale della Piet?á, one of theinstitutions for the education of illegitimate, orphan orimpoverished girls which enjoyed a distinguishedmusical reputation. He was also active in the compositionand direction of operas in Venice, and was himselfamong the great virtuoso violinists of his day. Hisachievement as a composer is reflected particularly in thefive hundred or more concertos he wrote, and hispioneering work in the establishment of the form of theItalian solo concerto.Keith Anderson