> MORATELLI La Feretra [DW]: Classical CD Reviews- Nov 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Sebastiano MORATELLI
La Faretra Smarrita
(The Lost Quiver) - a serenata for seven characters and orchestra
Mercurio - Hermann Oswald (tenor)
Amore - Verena Krause (soprano)
Africano - Thomas Ruf (bass)
Asiatico - Gunther Schmid (alto)
Americo - Martin Steffan (tenor)
Europea - Rufus Muller (tenor)
Echo - Tissi Georg (soprano)
Soloists, Salzburg Hofmusik/Wolfgang Brunner
CPO 999851-2 [49.25]


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This is a novelty.

Little is known about the Italian musician Sebastiano Moratelli.

He was born in Vicenza in 1640 and went to Austria in the late 1650s and was employed in the Court of Arch-duchess Anna Maria Josepha. On her marriage to the prince elector, Johann Wilhelm, Moratelli became a member of the Court in Dusseldorf eventually becoming Music Director. He retired to Heidelberg and died there in 1706. He wrote operas and serenades (serenatas) often to libretti by Johann Wilhelm's secretary Giorgio Maria Rapporini. It was thought that all of his music was lost until the score of La Faretra Smarrita was discovered in the library of the Counts of Toerring-Jettenbach.

A serenata is a cross between a cantata and an opera. The plot is trivial.

Mercurio, the messenger of the gods, has lost his golden quiver with its golden arrows of graces (one is actually called grace and there are others called majesty, beauty and innocence). He tells the god Amor who demands to known how this happened. Mercurio says that he laid the quiver down by a stream in order to 'have sport' with the beautiful nymphs and it was stolen. Amor and Mercurio travel throughout the world to try to find this quiver and, as the characters suggest, they visit Africa and America and then Europe. Here, when Amor asks about the quiver, there is an echo mentioning the names of Anna and Arno. Amor comes to the conclusion that a beautiful woman stole the quiver which has made the thief the personification of love and therefore worthy of universal praise.

Totally absurd.

This serenata was composed around 1690 and consists of a brief prelude and 28 short arias and recitatives.

The work is contemporary with fellow Italians, Corelli and Alessandro Scarlatti and with that great French composer, Rameau. In England his contemporaries would be John Blow and Purcell. And yet to my ears his music is so different, Let me quote two main reasons: namely the absence of fussy ornamentation and the use of a trombone! While the precursor of the trombone, the sackbut, was known in the sixteenth century the trombone, as such, was not familiar until the end of the eighteenth century. Its appearance in this serenata is therefore strange but somewhat effective.

The music is very polished and, as far as I can judge, very well performed. There is some excellent singing although I have to say that the work is not stunning! But there is an airy, out of doors feel which is welcome. On the other hand this piece is far more attractive than some secular vocal works by Handel, for example.

I must confess that this work has a strange charm. I wonder if any more of Moratelli's work will be discovered.

For lovers of early music this is well worth investigating. The accompanying booklet is a handsome production.

David Wright

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