Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Antonio CALDARA (1671-1736)
Trio Sonatas Op 1 Nos 1 in F major, 2 in G major, 5 in E minor, 7 in A major, 10 in F minor (1693)
Chiacona Op 2 No 12 in B flat major (1699)
Cello Sonata No 5 in F major (1735)
Cello Sonata No 14 in A minor (1735)
Parnassi musici
Recorded in the Hans-Rosbaud-Studio in Baden-Baden November 2001
CPO 999 871-2 [67.04]


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Caldara is best known for his extensive vocal works; the operatic and the sacred were his metier though he was a trained cellist. Nevertheless his Op 1 consisted of a chamber music calling card – twelve "Suonate a Tre" for two violins and a basso continuo (a cello), published in Venice in 1693 and probably intended for church performance. Though his later eminence was to mark him out as a prize catch in Dresden Caldara’s earlier experience at St Marks equipped him for a versatile career in Italian operatic life.

In CPO’s fine disc we have five of the Op 1 Trio Sonatas – numbers 1, 2, 5, 7 and 10. Some, if not all, doubtless predated the publication year of 1693 but their emergence did mark a decisive shift in his reputation. His strongly contrapuntal writing is both admirable and sophisticated; the use of suspension harmony attractive and anticipatory. There is gravity and intensity in the opening Adagio of the F minor and a charitable starkness as well as simplicity in the same Trio’s subsequent slow movement. Galant expressivity vies with little hesitancies in the opening of the G major, No 2 of the set. The elegantly ascending and descending violin lines of the Allegro are as colourful and melodically exciting as is the saturnine cello pizzicati in the Grave. The E minor opens like a Chaconne but the winding, aspirant ascension of violins adds piquancy to the texture of the succeeding Adagio. Amusing and technically adroit is the way in which Caldara allows the winding down of material in the Allegro second movement before propulsively engaging a drama laced final chordal flourish. The Adagio of this work is rather more densely opulent, with some expressive trills.

Six years later he was appointed as Court music director by the Duke of Mantua. Dating from this period is his A flat major Chiacona, the conclusion of that cycle and an impressive work in its own right. It involves considerable harmonic modulation and strong interplay between the two violins; whilst the thematic material may not be as obviously impressive as the Chaconne by Corelli, Caldara plays out the implications of the writing with real ingenuity.

Toward the end of his career Caldara was commissioned by Count Rudolf of Schönbrun to write an extensive series of works for the cello – and he wrote seventeen sonatas and a concerto altogether. Both Sonatas here are typical four movement creations but are unusually sophisticated. The A minor for example handles its material with an ease and confidence which marks Caldara’s total absorption of the form; the galant wit and poise that informs, say, the Allegro e Spirituoso are testament to a confluence of technical eloquence and expressive charm.

The German period instrument group Parnassi musici – who have recorded Albinoni and the little known Domenico Gallo to acclaim – continue their laudable exploration of the repertoire. These are sensitively shaped, instrumentally compelling performances recorded in a winningly sympathetic acoustic. Warmly recommended.

Jonathan Woolf

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