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Andrea CAPORALE (fl 1733-1757): "Complete Sonatas for Violoncello and basso continuo"

Guy Fishman, cello; Sarah Freiberg, cello [bc]; John Gibbons, harpsichord

rec: May 23 - 26, 2005, Roslindale, Ma. (USA), Futura Productions
Centaur - CRC 2812 ( 2006) (72'11")

Sonata No. 1 in A [1]; Sonata No. 2 in B flat [1]; Sonata No. 3 in D [1]; Sonata No. 4 in D [1]; Sonata No. 5 in F [1]; Sonata No. 6 in G [1]; Sonata in d minor [2]

(Sources: [1] XII Solos VI of Sigr Caporale VI compos'd by Mr Galliard, 1746; [2] 6 Solos compos'd by Sigr Bononcini and other Eminent Authors, 1748)

Andrea Caporale was one of many Italian musicians who went to England to look for employment. At the end of the 17th century everything Italian had started to become very popular. One of the indications for that was the fact that the cello was pushing the viola da gamba - which had been at the heart of music culture in England during the 16th and 17th centuries - to the sidelines. One of its advocates was Frederick Prince of Wales, who was a keen cellist himself.
Nothing is known about Caporale until the 1730s, when he settled in London. Here he was held in high regard because of his lyrical style of playing. He became Handel's favourite cellist, and participated in his opera performances. Sometimes Handel gave him an obbligato part to play: according to Charles Burney the cello part in the aria 'Son qual stanco pellegrino' from the opera Arianna in Creta, which was performed during the 1733-34 season, was "intended to display the abilities of Caporale". Burney had mixed feelings about the cellist: he praised his "full, sweet, and vocal tone" - which must have attracted Handel -, but also judged that Caporale was "... no deep musician, nor gifted with a very powerful hand".

It seems the sonatas recorded here reflect the character of Caporale as a performer. They are not very virtuosic, and Caporale never explores the extremes of the cello's range. This means they were playable by good amateurs, and that could well have been Caporale's intention, but it was probably also his own personal preference. The sonatas were part of a collection of 12 sonatas, six of which were composed by another immigrant, the German-born Johann Ernst Galliard, and which was offered to Frederick Prince of Wales. At the time the collection was published in 1746 Caporale had already left the country. Between 1754 and 1757 he was active in Dublin, but the year and place of his death are as unknown as when and where he was born.

All sonatas on this disc are in three movements. In the booklet Guy Fishman writes they follow the pattern slow-fast-slow, but that must be a writing error: three of the sonatas end with a 'vivace', which is not necessarily really fast, but certainly not slow, and they are not played slowly here either. The last movements of the other three sonatas are labelled 'cantabile', which usually doesn't indicate a fast tempo, but they are not necessarily mean 'slow' either. In this performance they are played in a moderate tempo, which seems to me just right.
The disc ends with a duet for two cellos, which was part of a collection of duets by Bononcini and others, published in 1748. It also contains three movements: adagio-allegro-allegro. This work is considerably more virtuosic, and the first movement gives opportunities to add cadenzas. This suggests the collection it was part of was not intended for the general market, but for professional players or the best amateurs. The title of the collection suggests the pieces it contains were intended for two cellos without accompaniment, but at least this piece seems to have a basso continuo part as well.

Guy Fishman, Israeli-born but mainly active in the United States, knows his way in these sonatas. He doesn't try to make them more virtuosic than they are intended to be, for instance by adding too fancy ornamentation. Their lyrical features are convincingly realised here, and the other interpreters are following his lead. Those who want to hear technical brilliance should look elsewhere, but those who just want to enjoy pieces of great lyricism and fine melodies will be pleased by this recording.

Johan van Veen ( 2008)

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