A previous album of cantatas by Nicolo Porpora on Brilliant Classics attracted glowing international reviews, flinging wide open ‘a window on a world generally known only in appearance and from a superficial listening of its flourishes and ornaments, but in reality very concrete and aesthetically complex and articulated.’ (Gothic Network)
Now comes a sequel, from a different, equally talented Italian early-music ensemble with an established track record on Brilliant. This album also contains several world premiere or first modern recordings, making available a wider appreciation of Porpora’s dramatic and elaborately decorative vocal idiom.
Porpora’s cantatas present an embarrassment of riches to the enterprising performer and the adventurous listener. There are so many that a path must be picked, a theme chosen. For this album, Mvsica Perdvta focus their attention on the subject of flowers and plants, which seems to have inspired the composer to notable artistic heights. Flora’s Realm, ‘Il Reggio di Flore’, stands in for love in the real world, but it also presents a fertile ground for expressive metaphors to be illustrated with instrumental colours and delicately entwining vocal lines.
These particular cantatas were newly edited for performance from manuscript sources based in Naples – Porpora’s home city – and Brussels and London. One of the most renowned singing teachers of his day, Porpora had an expert knowledge of the human voice, and these secular cantatas also contain moments of extraordinary pathos, underpinned by great technical skill and remarkable virtuoso élan.
Mvsica Perdvta is a flexible chamber group with a particular interest in musicological research. Its Brilliant Classics albums have won praise for their stylish performances and excellent recordings. ‘Sound quality is very good indeed. These days, Brilliant's engineers reliably outperform those of so many bigger labels by some distance… An all but exemplary product.’ (Zuccari, Cello Sonatas, 94306: MusicWeb International)
‘Renato Criscuolo keeps his forces tightly under control, which adds stability to the music. As the cellist in the sinfonia, he gives a rather rousing performance, which brings the music alive.’ (Pergolesi, 94763, Fanfare magazine)
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 della Pietà, a charitable institution for orphans and abandoned girls, where music was an important part of the children’s education.
This new recording brings together a number of Cantatas written about flowers and flowery landscapes, serving as the background for romantic stories about the bliss or curse of love: highly attractive works, full of drama, expressive effects and virtuoso roles for both vocalists and instrumentalists.
Another enterprising recording project of Musica Perduta, led by cellist Renato Criscuolo. Soprano Cristina Grifone is specialized in Early Music, she recorded a.o. for the label Glossa.