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Domènec TERRADELLAS (1713 - 1751): "¡Furor!"

Maria Grazia Schiavo, soprano
Dolce & Tempesta
Dir: Stefano Demicheli

rec: August 20008, Mondovì, Sala Ghislieri
Fuga Libera - FUG551 (© 2008) (66'04")

Ignasi LLOR (fl 1755-1765): Qué trágico espectáculo, cantata als Dolors de Maria Santissima; Domènec TERRADELLAS: Artaserse, opera: L'onda dal mar divisa, aria; Per quel paterno amplesso, aria; Merope, opera: Sinfonia; Ah scellerato! - Un empio m'accusa, rec & aria; Dono d'amica sorte non cura il mio valore, aria; Dove si vide mai di me più sventurata, aria Sesostri, re d'Egitto, opera: Sinfonia; Fra l'ombre del timore, aria; Qual sventura è la mia - Se perde l'usignolo, rec & aria; Solitudini amene - Spiega omai le placid'ali, rec & aria; Tremate, sì tremate, mostri di crudeltà, aria

This is a remarkable disc which sheds light on a forgotten master of Spanish birth, who made a career - although a rather short one - in Italy. He composed some religious music, but was mainly famous for his operas. He probably received some musical education from Francesco Valls, but early in his career he moved to Italy, in 1732. He became a student of Francesco Durante in Naples, and although his first opera, Astarte was performed in Rome, stylistically he belongs to the Neapolitan school. Between 1746 and 1750 he was in London where he composed two operas for the King's Theatre. After his return to Italy new operas were performed in Venice and Rome; his last opera was Sesostro, re d'Egitto, which was performed during Carnival 1751 in Rome. In May of that year Terradellas died under mysterious circumstances.

As he was mainly an opera composer this whole disc is filled with music from his operas. Two instrumental works are played, both overtures to operas, scored for wind and strings with basso continuo. In the Sinfonia to Sesostri, re d'Egitto the middle movement (larghetto) is for violins and bc only, whereas the larghetto from the Sinfonia to Merope contains a part for solo violin. As a composer of operas Terradellas is considered an innovator. He was one of the first to include wind in his accompanied recitatives. The two recitativi accompagnati on this disc are for strings alone, by the way. Most arias recorded here follow the classical form of the dacapo, but one extract from the opera Meraspe is an exception. 'Ah scellerato!' is an accompanied recitative, which is followed by an aria which has no dacapo but takes the form of a scene as it was common in operas from later in the 18th century. Stylistically his arias reminded me of Hasse's, for instance in the way he uses coloraturas and the sometimes long melismas on a single word or syllable. Thanks to the frequent use of wind the orchestral accompaniment is colourful. Delightful is the aria 'Se perde l'usignuolo' in which the protagonist compares himself with a nightingale which here is not depicted by a transverse flute - as one probably would expect - but by an oboe which gets involved in a duet with the soprano, both performing some virtuosic coloraturas. In the B section the low strings imitate hunting horns because of the text: "So proud is its sorrow that the hunter or the net is met with indifference". In the aria 'Per quel paterno amplesso' from Artaserse two transverse flutes have obbligato parts.

The arias are different in character: some belong to the category of rage arias, others have a more lyrical character. But they are all highly original, often quite dramatic and mostly virtuosic. Many of them also have strong contrasts between the A and B sections. A most remarkable piece is Qué trágico espectáculo which is based on music by Terradellas, but arranged by the Catalan composer Ignasi Llor. Recitatives from Terradellas' opera Merope are adapted to a text about the sorrows of the Virgin Mary. The first section is a dramatic accompanied recitative which reminded me of Haydn's cantata Arianna a Naxos in the orchestration of Sigismund Neukomm. This is followed by an aria which is every inch operatic.

The performance of the arias by Maria Grazia Schiavo is very impressive. She deals with their often virtuosic nature with brilliantly, and she captures their character quite well. It is just a shame that she uses too much vibrato, in particular in the dramatic arias. In the introspective arias she keeps it more in check. The orchestra is in every respect her equal, and fully explores the evocative character of the instrumental score. The instrumental solos and obbligatos are also well executed. Despite my reservation in regard to Ms Schiavo's singing I strongly recommend this disc. Terradellas's music fully deserves to be rediscovered, and that process seems well under way. His opera Artaserse has been recorded in 2008 under the direction of Juan Bautista Otero (RCOC Records) who recently also directed a live performance of his last opera, Sesostri, re d’Egitto.

Johan van Veen (© 2011)

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