Falconieri, Music Web

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Il Seicento Italiano ‘alla spagnuola’
Coro Polifonico ‘Santo Spirito’/Francesco Pinamonti
Cappella Musicale di San Giacomo Maggiore/Roberto Cascio
rec. June 2014 at Chiesa di S. Lorenzo, Panico – Marzabotto (Bologna), Italy DDD
TACTUS TC640001 [57:06]

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. It is a shame that the booklet comes without any lyrics. In some cases these can be downloaded from the Tactus site but there is no link in the booklet of this disc.

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

Andrea FALCONIERI (1585-1656)
Bayle de los dichos Diabolos [1:40]
Filippo COPPOLA (1628-1680) (attr)
Sinfonia [1:56]
Oy celebren todos [2:06]
Battalla de Barbaso yerno de Satanas [3:50]
Filippo COPPOLA (attr)
Piedad [2:07]
Solemnos jubilos [6:42]
Rinen, y pelean entre Berzebillo, con Satanasillo, y Caruf, y Pantul [3:15]
Filippo COPPOLA (attr)
Y tonos unidos [0:53]
Coro de Proserpina y Salen, Ciane, y Megera [1:16]
La Diamantina [2:59]
Cara è la rosa [2:26]
Brando dicho el Melo [1:20]
La Xaveria Buelta echa para El Senior Conde Xaverio [2:17]
Corriente dicha la Mota, echa por Don Pedro dela Mota [1:32]
Folias eche para mi Senora dona Tarolilla de Carallenos [4:17]
Passacalle [3:45]
La suave melodia [2:16]
La suave melodia, su corrente [1:34]
O vezzosetta dalle chiome d’oro [1:22]
Ciaccona (L’Eroica) [2:08]
Fantasia Echa para el muy Reverendo Padre Falla [2:46]
Il Rosso Brando [1:43]
Cara è la rosa [1:37]