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Agostino Steffani – Danze e Ouvertures (2013)

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Agostino Steffani – Danze e Ouvertures (2013)

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01. Orlando generoso: I. Ouverture
02. II. Menuet
03. III. Prelude: Tres viste
04. IV. Gavotte
05. V. Menuet
06. VI. Bourree
07. VII. Gigue
08. Marco Aurelio: Sinfonia
09. Henrico Leone: I. Ouverture
10. II. Air: Grave
11. III. Prelude pour les Demons: Tres viste
12. I trionfi del fato: Ouverture
13. Le rivali concordi: Sarabande. Tres lentement
14 Tassilone: Sinfonia
15. Niobe, regina di Tebe: I. Ouverture
16. II. Ritornello tiberino
17. III. Terremoto
18. IV. Marcia di Creonte
19. La lotta d'Hercole con Acheloo: Ouverture
20. I trionfi del fato: Les Ombres. Grave
21. Le rivali concordi: Ouverture
22. Henrico Leone: Chaconne
23. Briseide: Ouverture
24. Orlando generoso: Gsavotte en Rondeau
25. La superbia d'Alessandro: I. Ouverture
26. II. Air: Tres viste
27. III. Menuet
28. IV. Gavotte
29. V. Air: Tendre
30. VI. Air: Viste
31. Alcibiade (La liberta contenta): I. Ouverture
32. II. Gavotte
33. III. Passepied en Rondeau
34. IV. Gigue
35. Servio Tullio: Sinfonia
36. I trionfi del fato: I. Sarabande. Lentement
37. II. Premier Rigaudon - Second Rigaudon
38. Niobe, regina di Tebe: Gavotta
39. La lotta d'Hercole con Acheloo: I. Premier Air: Lentement - Viste - Lentement
40. II. Second Air pour les mesmes: Gigue
41. III. Troisieme Air pour les mesmes. Sarabande
42. IV. Gigue da capo
43. Amor vien dal destino: Introduzione al drama

Coro della Radiotelevisione Svizzera
I Barocchisti
Conductor - Diego Fasolis

 

The booklet to this release freely concedes that Agostino Steffani (1654-1728) wrote no instrumental music, making the present collection unusually obscure in terms of repertoire for a major-label release. What you get is a set of operatic overtures and dance excerpts from operas, similar enough to what might be presented on an album of instrumental music, from operas 150 years later. But until his operas were championed by Cecilia Bartoli, few had heard of Steffani, who was a leading star of vocal music in Germany in Corelli's day and was listened to all over the continent. It all goes to show how the Baroque revival is no longer confined to small specialist labels. The chief interest in these little pieces lies perhaps in their influence. The "danze e ouvertures" title, partly Italian and partly French, suggests what's going on here: the music, well before Bach and Couperin, contains multiple national styles. The overtures often contain a slow introduction and a fast conclusion, but the fast part consists of Italianate operatic-dramatic music, not French formal dance music. Most of the music here is receiving its recorded premiere, but it would have been well known when Bach was young, and it is ancestral to both the general dance suite and the church and chamber sonata. The performances by I Barocchisti and its leader, Diego Fasolis, are ideal: they have Fasolis' trademark vigor, and they capture what was new and exciting about the music at the time. Though no more than a few minutes long, some of the pieces have vivid programmatic effects, including in one case battle music complete with a big bass drum. You may never have heard of Steffani, and the primary interest of this album may be to Baroque fans, but Decca is right to take a chance on it: anyone can enjoy it. ---James Manheim, Rovi

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