Porpora: Alle Figlie del Coro

Composer Nicola Antonio Porpora
Artist Paola Crema soprano
Maria Zalloni mezzo-soprano
Coro Femminile Harmònia
Nicola Ardolino chorus master
Ensemble Barocca I Musicali Affetti
Michele Peguri conductor
Format 1 CD
Cat. number 95159
EAN code 5028421951591
Release June 2015

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About this release

Vivaldi was not the only composer to write for the talented girls and women of the Ospedale della Pieta, the convent school in Venice which was apparently full of young musicians trained in vocal and instrumental virtuosity sufficient to tackle virtuoso sonatas and concertos. Nicola Porpora was born in Naples, and is known as a distinguished alumnus of the more operatically inclined Neapolitan school of composers such as Alessandro Scarlatti and Pergolesi.

Porpora worked off and on in Venice, and in 1742 became chorus master at the Ospedale della Pietà, and then from 1744 to 1747 worked in the same role at the Ospedale dei Poveri Derelitti run by the parish of S. Giovanni e Paolo. Most of the works on this CD – some of them recorded for the first time – date from this latter period. The choir was apparently in a parlous state when Porpora took it over, but he turned things around within fairly short order through rigorous daily rehearsals: as Porpora himself wrote on 4 January 1745, "To form a good choir calls for many things, the most important of which I shall describe here. […] resonant voices possessed by girls who are determined, ready to work hard, and skilled as instrumentalists."

The works here are multi-movement settings of psalms and other sacred texts, alternating arias and choruses, solo and ripieno texts, mostly lively in character except where pathos is called for in penitential texts. It makes a fine complement to the recent disc of secular cantatas on Brilliant Classics (BC94311) and is performed with native style by a historically ensemble based in Vicenza, just 60km from La Serenissma itself. The booklet contains a scholarly essay and the full sung texts are available for download at www.brilliantclassics.com.

Nicola Porpora (1686-1768) was an important composer, musician and teacher of Baroque Europe. He held several important posts, notably in Dresden, London (where he was Handel’s rival) and Venice. He was the teacher of the famous castrato Farinelli and Joseph Haydn.
In Venice Porpora was teacher and chorus master at the Ospedale delle Pietà, a charitable institution for orphans and abandoned girls, where music was an important part of the children’s education. On this disc are presented a selection of sacred works written for the female choirs of the Ospedale: highly attractive works, full of drama, expressive effects and virtuoso roles for both vocalists and instrumentalists.
Excellent performances by the Coro Femminile Harmonia and the Ensemble Barocca e Musicali Affetti, conducted by Michele Perugi.
A fascinating document of musical life in Baroque Venice, containing several first recordings!

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Confitebor
  2. Ut det illis
  3. Fidelia Omnia
  4. Sanctum et terribile
  5. Gloria Patri
  6. Sicut erat
  7. 6 duetti latini: I. Crimen Adae quantum constat
  8. Credidi propter
  9. Gloria
  10. Sicut erat
  11. Nunc dimittis
  12. Quia viderunt oculi mei
  13. Lumen ad revelationem ad revelationem gentium
  14. Gloria Patri et Filio
  15. Sicut erat in principio
  16. Qui habitat in adiutorium altissimi
  17. Gloria
  18. Sicut erat
  19. Vigilate, oculi mei
  20. Cavete, oculi mei
  21. Aer, tellus, mare
  22. Non longe abest aurora
  23. Non expectabo
  24. Alleluja
  25. Domine probasti me
  26. Gloria