Having lived a short, dramatic life worthy of its own literary account (a highly dramatised novel of his life was produced in 1844 recounting his many scandals and sensational murder), San Giovanni Crisostomo was one of several sacred oratorios to emerge from Alessandro Stradella’s surprisingly large output. It tells of the conflict between the rapacious, tyrannical and yet conflicted Queen Eudosia of Byzantium, and John Chrysostom, the dissident Archbishop of Constantinople, known for his eloquent rebuttals of corruption and wealth. Through this work Stradella and the unknown librettist explore the greater conflict between secular and religious powers, and engage the listener in sophisticated moral and political dilemmas.
Perhaps his best-known work, Stradella’s score makes innovative use of intimate resources; it calls only for a simple basso continuo to accompany the singers, and demonstrates his signature flair for recognising dramatic contours of the text in his vocal works along with his rhythmic fluidity, striking harmonic invention and sensitively designed characterisation of its main roles. Having already tackled the likes of Bach, Albinoni and Vivaldi on previous releases, Baroque aficionados Harmonices Mundi bring their learned interpretations to the recording and breathe new life to Stradella’s remarkable work, while showcasing the copious talents of several leading early music specialists. This exciting new recording is based on a critical edition by Colin Timms, academic and expert in early music.
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 is one of the most important composers of dramatic sacred works in 17-th century Italy. San Giovanni Crisostomo is a large scale oratorio, in lyrical vocal style: long and florid cantabile phrases, uninterrupted by frequent cadences and a subtle characterisation of the psychology of the dramatis personae.
Excellent performances by Harmonices Mundi conducted by Claudio Astronio, who already recorded three Stradella CD’s for Brilliant classics: the oratorio La Susanna (BC94345), Duets (with Emma Kirkby and Susanne Rydén, BC94343) and Italian Arias (BC94258). The booklet contains extensive liner notes written by a scholar, and the full libretto in the original language.
Recorded in Italy in August 2014.
Based on a critical edition by Colin Timms.
Contains extensive liner notes on the composer and work.
Contains sung texts in the original language.