Durante: Concertos for Strings

Durante: Concertos for Strings
Composer Francesco Durante
Artist Ensemble Imaginaire
Cristina Corrieri conductor
Format 2 CD
Cat. number 95542
EAN code 5028421955421
Release August 2017

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About this release

Naples in the first half of the 18th century ranked among the musical capitals of Europe. In the three major genres of operatic, sacred and instrumental music the city both attracted many of the continent’s best musicians to live and work there for a period, as well as nurturing a prodigious native tradition of performers and composers. Among the most distinguished of the latter company is to be counted Francesco Durante (1684-1755), praised by no less than Jean-Jacques Rousseau as ‘the greatest harmonist in Italy, which is to say in the world.’

Extravagant words, on the face of it, but backed up by many passages and twists of genius in the collection of eight concertos for string ensemble which features in this new recording from a sparky Italian period-instrument ensemble. Each concerto has its own proportions; only the Fifth followswhat we now think of as a three-movement, fast-slow-fast model. For the rest, fugues and double canons alternate with minuets and abrupt presto sections that translate some of the drama of opera into purely instrumental terms. The expression is always at full tilt; Neapolitan, one might say, and indeed it is Durante who passed down to posterity many of the characteristics that are now readily associated with an entire school and locale of composition.

A world premiere recording distinguishes this set from its competitors: a concerto in B flat which did not belong to the single surviving hand-written score, but is indubitably by Durante, as its harmonic daring and vivid character will confirm. Ensemble Imaginaire gave the first performance of this concerto in modern times during the lead-up to this recording, which will be welcomed by all Baroque music enthusiasts.

Francesco Durante (1684-1755) was the most important representative of the Neapolitan School in the first half of the 18-th century, “the greatest harmonist in Italy, that is the world” wrote Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his Dictionnaire de Musique. His pupils include Pergolesi, Jommelli and Paisiello.
Although Durante was foremost a composer of sacred music he is widely known for his famous 12 Concertos for Strings. These 3- or 4-movement concertos are highly skillful works in which the Baroque polyphony is infused with Neapolitan Galante Style elements, as well as certain unusual melodic, rhythmic and harmonic twists, foreshadowing the Sturm und Drang style.
The Italian Ensemble Imaginaire is specialized in the exploration of Neapolitan Baroque music. They play on period instruments and have based their performance on a new critical survey of the original manuscript scores.

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Concerto No. 1 in F Minor: I. Un poco andante
  2. Concerto No. 1 in F Minor: II. Allegro
  3. Concerto No. 1 in F Minor: III. Andante
  4. Concerto No. 1 in F Minor: IV. Amoroso
  5. Concerto No. 1 in F Minor: V. Allegro
  6. Concerto No. 2 in G Minor: I. Affettuoso
  7. Concerto No. 2 in G Minor: II. Presto
  8. Concerto No. 2 in G Minor: III. Largo affettuoso
  9. Concerto No. 2 in G Minor: IV. Allegro
  10. Concerto No. 3 in E-Flat Major: I. Presto
  11. Concerto No. 3 in E-Flat Major: II. Largo - Canone sopra canone à 4
  12. Concerto No. 3 in E-Flat Major: III. Allegro
  13. Concerto No. 3 in E-Flat Major: IV. Allegro assai
  14. Concerto No. 3 in E-Flat Major: V. Finale
  15. Concerto No. 4 in E Minor: I. Adagio
  16. Concerto No. 4 in E Minor: II. Ricercare del quarto tono. Allegro
  17. Concerto No. 4 in E Minor: III. Largo
  18. Concerto No. 4 in E Minor: IV. Presto

Disk 2

  1. Concerto No. 5 in A Major: I. Presto
  2. Concerto No. 5 in A Major: II. Largo
  3. Concerto No. 5 in A Major: III. Allegro
  4. Concerto No. 6 in A Major: I. Allegro
  5. Concerto No. 6 in A Major: II. Amoroso
  6. Concerto No. 6 in A Major: III. Minuet. Allegro - Trio - Minuet da capo
  7. Concerto No. 6 in A Major: IV. Canone à trè
  8. Concerto No. 7 in C Major: I. Moderato
  9. Concerto No. 7 in C Major: II. Allegro
  10. Concerto No. 7 in C Major: III. Larghetto
  11. Concerto No. 7 in C Major: IV. Presto
  12. Concerto in A Major “la pazzia”: I. Allegro
  13. Concerto in A Major “la pazzia”: II. Affettuoso
  14. Concerto in A Major “la pazzia”: III. Allegro
  15. Concerto in B-Flat Major: I. Allegro
  16. Concerto in B-Flat Major: II. Andante moderato
  17. Concerto in B-Flat Major: III. Allegro