Friday, 22 February 2008

61. Antonio Caldara - Maddalena ai Piedi di Cristo (c. 1698)


Title: Maddalena ai Piedi di Cristo
Performers: Schola Cantorum Basilensis Orchestra, Maria Cristina Kiehr, Andreas Scholl et al.
Director: Rene Jacobs
Year: 1996
Length: 2 hours 5 minutes


Caldara is not a name I had heard before and that makes him a good find here, because this is a pretty great work. We are no coming inexorably to High Baroque when instrumental music starts being as important as vocal music and you can see those seeds very much here, even if this is still a vocal piece.

It is a vocal piece with a difference however, the arias are accompanied with some tremendous instrumental playing which becomes as much part of the music as the voice itself, a particular highlight for me is Pompe Inutili on the first CD, almost a Cello and Voice Concerto, beautiful cello solo allied to some of the best singing we have had. A real highlight.

But then the whole Oratorio is quite beautiful, Caldara eschews choirs here, there is no need for them, when he needs pomp he uses instruments to give it to us and it works perfectly. Just a little gem.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

Caldara was born in Venice (exact date unknown), the son of a violinist. He became a chorister at St Mark's Cathedral also in Venice, where he learned several instruments, probably under the instruction of Giovanni Legrenzi. In 1699 he relocated to Mantua, where he became maestro di cappella to the Duke. He remained there until 1707, then moved on to Barcelona as chamber composer to Charles VI of Austria, then pretender to the Spanish throne with his royal court at Barcelona. There, he wrote some operas that are the first Italian operas performed at Spain. He moved on to Rome, becoming maestro di cappella to Prince Ruspoli. While there he wrote "Faithfulness in Love Defeats Treachery" for the public theatre at Macerata. In 1716, he obtained a similar post in Vienna to serve the Imperial Court, and there he remained until his death.

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