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Andrea FALCONIERI & Filippo COPPOLA: "Il Seicento Italiano 'alla spagnuola'"

Cappella Musicale di San Giacomo Maggiore; Coro Polifonico 'Santo Spirito'
Dir: Roberto Cascio

rec: June 2014, Panico - Marzabotto (Bologna), Chiesa di S. Lorenzo
Tactus - TC 640001 ( 2016) (57'06")
Liner-notes: E/I; lyrics - no translations
Cover, track-list & booklet

Filippo COPPOLA (1628-1680) (attr): Proserpina (Sinfonia; Oy celebren todos; Piedad; Solemnos jubilos; Y tonos unidos; Coro de Proserpina y Salen, Ciane, y Megera) Andrea FALCONIERI (1585-1656): Battalla de Barbaso yerno de Satanas; Bayle de los dichos Diabolos; Brando dicho el Melo; Cara la rosa; Ciaccona (L'Eroica); Corriente dicha la Mota, echa por Don Pedro dela Mota; Fantasia Echa para el muy Reverendo Padre Falla; Folias eche para mi Senora dona Tarolilla de Carallenos; Il Rosso Brando; La Diamantina; La suave melodia; La suave melodia, su corrente; La Xaveria Buelta echa para El Senior Conde Xaverio; O vezzosetta dalle chiome d'oro; Passacalle; Rinen, y pelean entre Berzebillo, con Satanasillo, y Caruf, y Pantul

Source: Andrea Falconieri, Il primo libro di canzone, sinfonie, fantasie, capricci, brandi, correnti, gagliarde, alemane, volte, 1650

[CP di SGM] Marco Castellucci, Lars Hvass Pujol, tenor; Cesare Lana, bass; Daniele Salvatore, Antonio Lorenzoni, Camilla Marabini, recorder; Fabrizio Lepri, viola da gamba; Camilla Finardi, mandolin; Roberto Cascio, archlute; Monica Paolini, guitar; Marco Muzzati, percussion
[CP 'SS' (*) solo] Irene Sitta*, Ginevra Campalani, Anna Tarocco, Slvia Locci, Teresa Auletta, Beatrice Boldrini, soprano; Linda Cisternino*, Francesca Tisi, Cristina Capelli, Giulia Verardo, contralto; Emanuele Sitta, Eutizio Cosimi, Michelangelo Simoni, Michele Semenza, Paolo Bonora, tenor; Francesco Pinamonti*, Mauro Vignolo, Raffaele Vrenna, Simone Montanari, bass

The Italian label Tactus often releases interesting discs with little-known or even completely unknown repertoire, sometimes by composers most music-lovers have never heard of. Unfortunately the presentation of such discs often leaves much to be desired. That is also the case here. The programme comprises pieces by two composers but the booklet hardly gives any information about them.

One of the composers is Filippo Coppola. The only thing the booklet tells us is that he was maestro di cappella of the Royal Chapel in Naples. In New Grove he is not mentioned at all, so maybe nothing more is known about him. Six pieces from his pen are included, that is to say: if they are written by him. The English translation of the liner-notes by Roberto Cascio is not that easy to follow but it seems that these pieces are taken from an opera with the title Proserpina that "may perhaps be attributed" to Coppola. The liner-notes give some reasons for that attribution but I have not been able to figure out the line of argument. The opera is in Spanish which can be explained from the fact that at the time Naples was under Spanish rule and the viceroy was also from Spain. Little is told about its content; we have to turn to Wikipedia to learn more about Proserpina. As usual this disc comes without lyrics. Often the booklet includes a link to the Tactus site where the lyrics can be downloaded. It is missing here; only after I had written this review for MusicWeb International I found out that the Tactus site does include the lyrics. For my assessment of this disc it doesn't make any difference as English translations are omitted.

With Falconieri we are on more familiar territory. "Side by side with the myth of the abduction of Ceres' daughter by Pluto, we have placed the works by Falconieri, in the collection of 1650, that refer to the underworld. (...) The image of a theatre, rather than that of a concert hall, is the setting we envisage for the first ten pieces of our brief anthology of Neapolitan music of the mid-seventeenth century." His music is quite popular among instrumental ensembles because of its theatrical character - which is expressed in the titles of several pieces - and because many of his compositions are technically quite demanding. Falconieri was born in Naples and was educated as a lutenist. Early in his career he worked as a lutenist at the courts of Parma and Modena. He later travelled across Spain and France, returned to Parma and then moved to Naples. In his last years he appeared in several places across Italy until his death in Naples in 1656.

As a composer he published several collections of vocal music; the present disc includes several vocal items which may have been taken from one of these editions. However, most pieces are from Il primo libro di canzone, sinfonie, fantasie, capricci, brandi, correnti, gagliarde, alemane, volte of 1650. These are for one to three violins, viola and bc; the strings can be replaced by other instruments. Considering his education as a lutenist it is understandable that some pieces are played on several plucked instruments. One of these is the guitar; it is known that Falconieri wrote a book on the Spanish guitar but that has been lost. Several pieces are based on a basso ostinato.

The singing is alright; the voices are nice enough but the performances are probably not as theatrical as one would expect. The acoustic may play its part here; theatrical music requires a different acoustic than that of the church where this programme was recorded. The playing leaves nothing to be desired; there is no lack of theatre here. The instrumental contributions are technically flawless and the interpretations are full of energy and zest. A disc like this deserves a much better presentation.

Johan van Veen ( 2017)

Relevant links:

Cappella Musicale di San Giacomo Maggiore
Coro Polifonico 'Santo Spirito'


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