Araja: Capricci; Pellegrini: Sonatas

Araja: Capricci; Pellegrini: Sonatas
Composer Francesco Domenico Araja, Ferdinando Pellegrini
Artist Enrico Bissolo harpsichord
Format 1 CD
Cat. number 96482
EAN code 5028421964829
Release February 2022

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About this release

This recording provides a comparison of the keyboard music of two composers born in Naples whose careers took them beyond national borders. Francesco Araja was born in 1709 and became capellmeister and court composer to Tsarina Anna in St. Petersburg; Ferdinando Pellegrini whose birth probably dates back to 1715, lived and worked in Lyon, London and Paris.

While Araja’s life and musical production are essentially tied to the theatre, he achieved fame through sacred music. The turning point in Araja’s career came with an offer from the Neapolitan violinist Pietro Mira to work in St. Petersburg as a court musician. He was also named choirmaster upon his arrival in Russia, a position he held for many years.

His musical production, apart from the operas and cantatas he composed for the Russian court, consists of an oratorio and a collection of Capricci for the harpsichord. The latter, featured on this recording, are extremely free compositions with a varied character, sometimes brilliantly virtuosic. In the absence of well-defined musical form, they consist rather of a series of episodes, or tableaux, with the common thread being the compositional skill through which Araja demonstrates his deep knowledge of the instrument and its performing technique. Araja died in 1770.

Details on Pellegrini’s life are scarce. After his birth in Naples there are traces of a relocation to Rome, where the records of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia document his enrolment in 1743. After Rome, Pellegrini moved to France, attested by a 10-year charter granted to ‘S.r Fernando Pellegrino musicien aÌ Lyon’ in 1753 for the composition of ‘Trios et autres pieÌces de musique instrumentale’. Further testimony places Pellegrini in Paris (until 1762) in the service of Alexandre Le Riche de la PouplinieÌre. This weathly, sensitive patron of the arts funded a renowned orchestra, directed by Rameau and Stamitz, among others. La PouplinieÌre’s brother-in-law, the Abbeì de Mondran, wrote of Pellegrini as “a true demon at the keyboard”.

Pellegrini composed a series of sonatas for solo harpsichord. The style is galant, characterised by elegant phrasing, melodic invention and repetitive accompanimental formulas. This pleasant music offers the performer opportunities to enrich the score with variations and diminutions. Pelegrini died in 1766.

Other information:
- Recorded in July of 2020 at Sant’Ambrogio di Valpolicella (Verona), Italy
- Bilingual booklet in English and Italian contains notes on the composers written by the artist, as well as a biography of the artist
- Enrico Bissolo plays a harpsichord by Keith Hill (Michigan, 1984) after Petrus Bull (Antwerp, 1769)

- This recording presents two composers whose birthplace was Naples, but whose careers took them beyond national borders and whose keyboard styles developed in different directions: Francesco Araja and Ferdinando Pellegrini. The former became maestro di cappella and court composer to Tsarina Anna, in St. Petersburg; the latter lived and worked in Lyon, London and Paris.
- Francesco Araja gathered fame through his operas and sacred works, however he also wrote instrumental music for the keyboard. The Capricci are extremely free compositions with a varied character, full of brilliant virtuosity, showing in frequent leaps, sometimes very wide, and crossings of hands, which immediately bring to mind the sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti, even though they share little in common with them from the standpoint of form.
- Pellegrini composed a series of sonatas for solo harpsichord and for violin with an obbligato harpsichord accompaniment in the Style Galante, demonstrated by the elegance in phrasing and melodic invention. The music is pleasant to listen to and offers the performer great possibilities to enrich what is written in the score with variations and diminutions.
- Enrico Bissolo graduated in organ and harpsichord at the Conservatorio of Verona and Conservatorio of Piacenza; he also graduated in musicology at the University of Musicology in Cremona. He attended masterclasses in early music with M. Radulescu, E. Bellotti, T. Koopman, P. Peretti and he graduated in Historic Organ at the University of Music in Trossingen. He plays a harpsichord after Petrus Bull (Antwerp, 1769), built in 1984 by Keith Hill, Michigan.

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Francesco Domenico Araja: 8 Capricci for Harpsichord: I. Presto in F Major
  2. Francesco Domenico Araja: 8 Capricci for Harpsichord: II. Largo, allegro spiritoso in A Major
  3. Francesco Domenico Araja: 8 Capricci for Harpsichord: III. Allegro spiritoso in B-Flat Major
  4. Francesco Domenico Araja: 8 Capricci for Harpsichord: IV. Allegro spiritoso in F Major
  5. Francesco Domenico Araja: 8 Capricci for Harpsichord: V. Larghetto in D Major
  6. Francesco Domenico Araja: 8 Capricci for Harpsichord: VI. Allegro assai in C Major
  7. Francesco Domenico Araja: 8 Capricci for Harpsichord: VII. Andante spiritoso in C Major
  8. Francesco Domenico Araja: 8 Capricci for Harpsichord: VIII. Allegro assai in B-Flat Major
  9. Ferdinando Pellegrini: Harpsichord Sonata No. 1, Op. 2: I. Andantino
  10. Ferdinando Pellegrini: Harpsichord Sonata No. 1, Op. 2: II. Minuetto
  11. Ferdinando Pellegrini: Harpsichord Sonata No. 2, Op. 2: I. Andante spiritoso
  12. Ferdinando Pellegrini: Harpsichord Sonata No. 2, Op. 2: II. Minuetto
  13. Ferdinando Pellegrini: Harpsichord Sonata No. 3, Op. 2: I. Andantino
  14. Ferdinando Pellegrini: Harpsichord Sonata No. 3, Op. 2: II. Allegro
  15. Ferdinando Pellegrini: Harpsichord Sonata No. 3, Op. 2: III. Menuet
  16. Ferdinando Pellegrini: Harpsichord Sonata No. 4, Op. 2: I. Andante spiritoso
  17. Ferdinando Pellegrini: Harpsichord Sonata No. 4, Op. 2: II. Allegro moderato
  18. Ferdinando Pellegrini: Harpsichord Sonata No. 5, Op. 2: I. Senza indicazione di tempo
  19. Ferdinando Pellegrini: Harpsichord Sonata No. 5, Op. 2: II. Minuetto, trio
  20. Ferdinando Pellegrini: Harpsichord Sonata No. 6, Op. 2: I. Senza indicazione di tempo
  21. Ferdinando Pellegrini: Harpsichord Sonata No. 6, Op. 2: II. Minuetto, trio