Giuseppe Corsi (c.1631/1691), known as Celani, was one of the most important composers of the Roman school active in the second half of the 17th century. Little is known about his origins although, according to historian Pietro Antonio Corsignani, his family belonged to the noble branch of the Evangelisti Corsi family. Born in Abruzzo, he soon moved to Rome to undertake his musical studies, enjoying employment as maestro di cappella in several cathedrals and basilicas in the Italian capital and further afield.
Later, during his exile from the Papal State, Corsi had Perti as his pupil, later conducting several of the latter's sacred compositions.
Corsi's catalogue of works includes around 23 secular compositions including Cantatas for one voice and basso continuo (TriCo 49–69). The protagonist of the cantata Dalle balze sicane (TriCo 58) is the mythological Enceladus who, having been plunged into the bowels of Mount Etna by the goddess Athena, invokes Jupiter to placate the outrage against him. The character’s 'misfortunes' and 'sorrows' of love in Cruda legge del mio fato (TriCo 57) find analogies with those experienced by the composer. The first aria in this cantata is rich in complex enharmonics, greatly expanded and varied in the repeat, when the voice is engaged in difficult bravura passages.
The cantata Abbandonato e solo (TriCo 49) begins with a veritable monologue from Roman emperor Nero, tormented by his past ghosts. The cantata on this album by Giacomo Antonio Perti (1661–1756), Pompe, voi che ascondete, although attributed to Corsi’s favourite pupil, is in fact still of unproven authorship.
It is possible that Giuseppe Corsi met Giovanni Battista Vitali (1632–1692). The two composers in 1685 took part in the famous dispute over parallel fifths in Arcangelo Corelli's Sonata Op.2 No.3. The bass of the violin family, of which Vitali was a virtuoso, was widespread thanks to the Este patronage of Duke Francesco I. Called violone or bass, it would soon evolve into the violoncello thanks to the invention of coated strings that made it possible to reduce the size of the instrument. In his cantatas, Corsi repeatedly insists on the B flat grave, a characteristic of violin bass tuning, and the numerous semiquaver passages are particularly agile on the violone, so it is not unlikely that the composer from Marsica had this instrument in mind. It is also for this reason that Corsi's compositions have been joined by some movements from the Partite sopra diverse sonatas for the violone by Vitali that are particularly pleasing.
- Recorded March 2022, “Oratorio dei Barnabiti”, Rome, Italy
- Bilingual booklet in English and Italian contains liner notes, biographies of the artists, and sung texts
- Giuseppe Corsi, known as Celani, was one of the most important composers of the Roman school active in the second half of the 17th century. After his studies in Rome with Giacomo Carissimi he became active as a Maestro di Cappella in Gallese (Altemps family), Città di Castello (Cattedrale di S. Florido), Naples (Montalto family), Rome (several important churches), furthermore in Loreto, Ancona and Parma. Accused by the Inquisition for having "deflowered" a spinster, he was tortured and imprisoned for a few years on the orders of Pope Innocent XI in the Albornoz fortress of Narni.
- Because of his posts at important Italian churches he is primarily known for his output of sacred vocal works: masses, motets and oratorios. This new recording however presents secular cantatas for bass solo and basso continuo, mainly based on Greek mythology. The cantata Dalle balze sicane is about the mythological giant Enceladus who, having been plunged by Athena into the bowels of Mount Etna, invokes Jupiter to placate the outrage against him: the giant's bitter afflictions, combined with the screams and hisses of the souls of the underworld, will cause the Earth to tremble, provoking, "with deep thunder" and "with fire", the reawakening of the volcano. Corsi is a master in evoking this drama in vivid and realistic tone-painting of daring dissonances.
- Beautifully sung by Mauro Borgiono, one of the most prominent young baritones of the moment. As a specialist in Early Music he worked with Jordi Savall, Rinaldo Alessandrini and Diego Fasolis.