Theatrical chamber music might appear to be a contradiction in terms, but the unlikely idea is fulfilled by these sparkling, highly
wrought trio sonatas. For despite their title, that is what they are: most composers of the 18th century may have used the sonata
designation for this form, but Alessandro Stradella employed at least several of these works as preludes or overtures to his
dramatic and sacred works such as the oratorio Susanna (already recorded on Brilliant Classics, BC94345).
Stradella’s music, which is at last receiving something of the interest it deserves, contains passages of pure genius even in
the relatively small but excellent instrumental repertoire. The sinfonia in F major numbered sixth here is a case in
point, opening with a furiously agitated allegro and following with a striking union of lamenting slow and energetic quick
sections. A contemplative slow movement then precedes a substantial, Handelian fugue: it is as if Stradella were working
through a range of generic archetypes available to him, within the course of one 10‐minute sonata. The A minor Sinfonia is
rather more unified, no less witty than the F major work and again containing a thoroughly worked fugue, but now capped
with a finale full of surprising dissonance. The sinfonias have been recorded here by an Italian early-music ensemble led from
the keyboard by Francesco Cera, whose expertise in the field of composers in this era is attested to by a wide-ranging
discography on Brilliant Classics which includes albums of music by d’Anglebert (BC94793), Trabaci (BC94897), Scarlatti
(BC94488) and J.S. Bach (BC94639). Of his Orgelbüchlein recording, MusicWeb International commented that ‘Francesco
Cera plays with that innate rhythm that establishes that irresistible, compelling pulse in Bach… I wouldn’t just want to have one recording of these works … but if I had to reduce to one, it would be Cera.’ The same site noted of ‘Scarlatti and Neapolitan Song’ that it is ‘a most intriguing disc. Anyone
interested in Scarlatti should consider it… Cera delivers fine interpretations of the various sonatas on a beautiful instrument.’
This new CD presents the complete String Sinfonias by Alessandro Stradella, a First Recording!
The music by Alessandro Stradella (1639‐1682) is gaining rapidly in recognition and popularity. The composer’s extremely adventurous life (he was an aristocratic lady-killer, who himself was murdered in the end by a revengeful rival) and his equally adventurous music presents a forceful image of a fascinating and important figure of the Italian Baroque.
Stradella’s String Sinfonias are dramatic works, frequently used by the composer as an overture for his operas and cantatas. The sudden and extreme mood shifts and the expression of deep human emotions show a composer of dramatic genius.
Francesco Cera is one of Italy’s foremost Early Music musicians. As a cembalist and conductor he built an impressive discography, for Brilliant Classics he recorded works by Trabaci, d’Anglebert, Scarlatti and Bach.