Early Neapolitan Cello Music

Early Neapolitan Cello Music
Composer Gaetano Francone, Rocco Greco
Artist Matteo Malagoli cello
Irene De Ruvo organ/harpsichord
Schola Gregoriana Scivias Ensemble
Milli Fullin conductor
Format 1 CD
Cat. number 96345
EAN code 5028421963457
Release June 2021

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About this release

World-premiere recordings of some of the oldest surviving cello repertoire.
The cello was a beneficiary of the remarkable flowering of high culture sponsored by both ecclesiastical and aristocratic patrons in early 18th-century Naples. In 1717, Rocco Greco (1650-1718) became the last appointed player of the viola da gamba in the Royal Chapel dedicated to the treasure of St Januarius, the patron saint of Naples. Both Greco and his colleague Gaetano Francone (c.1650-1717) produced new music for the cello which was suitable for performance within the liturgy of the chapel.
Rather as composers of alternatim organ masses wrote elaborations of chant for the organ to be played between the chanted verses of the liturgy, so Greco composed 11 virtuosic ‘diminutions’ which were elaborated from the bass part of vocal motets setting Vespers texts. In performing the diminutions, Malagoli prefaces them with a chanted version of the Gregorian antiphon on which the motets were based.
The resulting sound is an Italian-accented equivalent to the viol ‘divisions’ which English composers such as Locke and Simpson were producing at this point. Both lively and melancholic in mood according to the key signature, these brief Diminutions and Passagagli both demand a virtuoso technique from the performer and a degree of imaginative flair in the interpretation of the manuscripts. Matteo Malagoli’s world-premiere recordings satisfy both criteria.
As a gambist and cellist, Malagoli has explored the history of bass string instruments for several decades, both in solo recitals and as a chamber musician and a continuo accompanist to several renowned Italian early-music groups. He is ideally placed to bring unrivalled authenticity and style to these new discoveries, which place the cello in an unusual context of sacred music and brings two significant Neapolitan composers to light: an essential album for all early-music enthusiasts.

Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, hundreds of churches and religious houses across Naples employed musicians, singers and instrument makers. They competed with one another to present the most stylish or lavish music for liturgical use. One of the new instruments introduced in the Church was the Violoncello.
Rocco Greco and his colleague Gaetano Francone produced new music for the cello which was suitable for performance within the liturgy of the chapel. Rather as composers of alternatim organ masses wrote elaborations of chant for the organ to be played between the chanted verses of the liturgy, so Greco composed 11 virtuosic ‘diminutions’ which were elaborated from the bass part of vocal motets setting Vespers texts. In the present recording the diminutions are prefaced with a chanted version of the Gregorian antiphon on which the motets were based. Francone, meanwhile, composed a collection of 10 short Passagagli. The ten pieces, based on the passacaglia bass pattern, are written for cello and basso continuo.
Italian cellist and musicologist Matteo Malagoli specializes in little-known 19th-century repertoire, having also published research on British and Italian organs and the era of Italian Baroque music between the gamba and the cello.

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Rocco Greco: Viri galilaei: I. Gregorian antiphon
  2. Rocco Greco: Viri galilaei: II. Cello diminution
  3. Rocco Greco: Loquebantur: I. Gregorian antiphon
  4. Rocco Greco: Loquebantur: II. Cello diminution
  5. Rocco Greco: Miserator dominus: I. Gregorian antiphon
  6. Rocco Greco: Miserator dominus: II. Cello diminution
  7. Rocco Greco: Dum esset rex: I. Gregorian antiphon
  8. Rocco Greco: Dum esset rex: II. Cello diminution
  9. Rocco Greco: Veni sponsa: I. Gregorian antiphon
  10. Rocco Greco: Veni sponsa: II. Cello dimiunution
  11. Rocco Greco: Ecce sacerdos magnus: I. Gregorian antiphon
  12. Rocco Greco: Ecce sacerdos magnus: II. Cello diminution
  13. Rocco Greco: Non est inventus: I. Gregorian antiphon
  14. Rocco Greco: Non est inventus: II. Cello diminution
  15. Rocco Greco: Sacerdos dei: I. Gregorian Responsorium
  16. Rocco Greco: Sacerdos dei: II. Cello diminution
  17. Rocco Greco: Domus mea: I. Gregorian antiphon
  18. Rocco Greco: Domus mea: II. Cello diminution
  19. Rocco Greco: Fidelis servus: I. Gregorian antiphon
  20. Rocco Greco: Fidelis servus: II. Cello diminution
  21. Rocco Greco: Veni electa mea: I. Gregorian antiphon
  22. Rocco Greco: Veni electa mea: II. Cello dimiunution
  23. Gaetano Francone: Passagagli No. 1 in G Minor/Major
  24. Gaetano Francone: Passagagli No. 2 in A Major
  25. Gaetano Francone: Passagagli No. 3 in B Minor
  26. Gaetano Francone: Passagagli No. 4 in C Major
  27. Gaetano Francone: Passagagli No. 5 in D Minor
  28. Gaetano Francone: Passagagli No. 6 in E Minor
  29. Gaetano Francone: Passagagli No. 7 in F Major
  30. Gaetano Francone: Passagagli No. 8 in G Major
  31. Gaetano Francone: Passagagli No. 9 in B Major
  32. Gaetano Francone: Passagagli No. 10 in F Major