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Francesco GASPARINI (1661-1727)
Opera Arias
Roberta Invernizzi (soprano)
Auser Musici/Carlo Ipata
rec. 2016, Teatro Rossi Aperto, Pisa
Texts and translations included
GLOSSA GCD922905 [59:30]

Tuscan-born Francesco Gasparini is commonly supposed to have studied with Pasquini and Corelli. What's not in doubt, apart from his tutorship of Marcello, Quantz and Domenico Scarlatti and the lasting value of his didactic works, is the long-lasting influence he exerted on a generation of composers. In vocal terms this most certainly includes the much younger Handel. It's a feature of this album, itself constructed largely as a tribute to Gasparini's vocal command, that so much emerges as powerfully expressive and indelibly attractive. It's a shame that he, who so splendidly graced Rome and Venice, is so often remembered for ceding a position in the latter city, thus allowing Vivaldi to begin his run of successes in the sphere of sacred music there. There are a number of approaches to a representative selection of his music and this one chooses to include a Sinfonia and a Flute Concerto, the better to round out the portrait, even if this does necessarily diminish the concentration on his operatic music.

He was famed for his accompanied recitatives and each example here shows distinctive elements we would more commonly recognise from Handelian opera, though Gasparini was nearly 25 years Handel’s senior. Martial elements in Astianatte, the Roman opera of 1719, give a very real sense of his flair for characterisation, not least in the confidence in writing for the trumpet, whilst the slow compression of the aria from L’oracolo del Fato, staged in the same year but in Venice, reveals his gift for saying much in a short space of time. The use of the obbligato theorbo is also deft and characterful, as well as being profoundly moving. The vogue for the tempest aria - from Il Circo - found its perfect conduit in Gasparini, who foreshadows the more extravagant such arias by Handel but this gift for rapidity and emotive vehemence, both vocally and orchestrally, is matched by a penchant for rich warmth – try, for example, the lovely siciliano from Bajazette (one of the very few works in this collection to have been recorded in full) with its dappled string pizzicati and prominent, lulling flute.

Then too there is the supreme articulacy of his writing for the oboe in Cor di padre from Il Tamerlano, one of the operas most likely to have influenced Handel. Its use as an active voice in the theatrical drama is both explicit and memorable. Enumerating these operatic qualities, both in terms of the music’s theatrical and instrumental components, I realise I’ve not yet mentioned Roberta Invernizzi. She is a perfect conduit for Gasparini’s music, crystalline in her divisions in the aria from Amleto and full of vibrancy and rhythmic vitality in the aria from the early opera Il Roderigo – in a programming twist the earliest works are placed at the end of the disc. She is just as fine in the cantata Andate o miei sospiri, its modest proportions, attractive line and excellent word setting giving it a status alongside that of his younger rival Scarlatti. The Flute Concerto sports a distinguished Siciliano and is most beautifully played.

In fact, this album is an unblemished success in every respect – playing, recording, documentation - for which Auser Musicii under their director Carlo Ipata, the flautist, can take huge credit.

Jonathan Woolf

Se la Grecia s’armerà (Astianatte, 1719) [4:36]
Qui ti scrivo o nome (L’oracolo del Fato, 1719) [2:01]
Nell’orror della procella (Il Ciro)
Par che mi nasca in seno (Bajazette)
Sinfonia (Engelberta)
Svena uccidi (Il Tamerlano)
Cor di padre (Il Tamerlano)
Qui dal porto d’ocean (Santa Eufrosina)
D’ire armato (Amleto)
Se non canti più (L’oracolo del Fato)
Andate o miei sospiri (Cantata)
Concerto per flauto
Non ha incendio (Il Roderigo)
Non vo lasciarti più (Il Roderigo)
Ombre care (Atalia)



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