Operatic, early-Romantic fantasias for solo flute by one of the great names of Italian opera. Laura Trapani’s previous album for Brilliant Classics brought wider renown for the sparkling flute-writing of Beethoven’s pupil Ferdinand Ries (96132). Now the Ferrara-based flautist turns her attention south to another overlooked figure of the early 19th century, Saverio Mercadante.
Mercadante learnt the flute as a child and became a virtuoso on the instrument during his training in Naples while learning the craft of an opera composer which would bring him fame across Europe. One of his earliest successes for the stage was a ballet based on the legend of a magic flute - unrelated to Mozart’s masonic tale - and from the 1820s onwards, audiences flocked to Mercadante’s lyric dramas for their pacy drama, memorable tunes and arias that displayed the great singers of the age to best advantage.
His Capricci also date from this early stage of his career. Comparable to the more celebrated caprices for violin by his elder contemporary Paganini, they are technical studies which stretch the technique of the most accomplished flautists, and they dazzle the ear with their lightning runs, filigree figurations and flourishes. The Capricci have received recordings from celebrated flautists, whereas the later Arie Variate have been relatively overlooked, and this release marks only their second recording, and the first to be made for CD. They are fantasies on popular operatic arias in the style of the piano pot-pourris and paraphrases which would be raised to an art-form by Franz Liszt a generation later. The chosen themes are mostly drawn from operas of the late 1810s such as Rossini’s Armida and Elisabetta, Regina d’Inghilterra, but they range from Mozart’s Don Giovanni to Mercadante’s own Gabriella di Vergy of 1828. Laura Trapani thus restores to the catalogue a shining example of early Romantic instrumental virtuosity.
- Saverio Mercadante (1795-1870) was one of the most important opera composers of 19th century Italy. Nurtured on Neapolitan soil he soon gained success all over Italy, where his operas were praised for their strong dramatic impact and brilliant orchestration, a link between Rossini and Verdi.
- Mercadante wrote 60 operas, symphonies, concertos and a vast body of chamber music. This new recording presents works written for solo flute: 6 Capriccios and 10 “Arias with variations”. These works show a personal language that blends a taste for lyricism with the pleasure of instrumental bravura.
- Laura Trapani is a successful Italian soloist and chamber music player, she specializes in the music of Edgar Varèse.