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Venetian Composers in Guatemala and Bolivia
Baldassare GALUPPI (1706-1785)
Aria: “De Dios esposa amante” [8:19]2
Introduction, recitative and Aria: “Gira volando la sacra esfera” [10:32]2
Cantada al Ssmo con violines [14:27]3
Aria: Quien no busca la estrella” [8:36]1
Duro como una pena [0:51]
Giacomo FACCO (1670-1757)
Cantada humana de dos arias con violón [19:09]3
Recitative and Aria: “Morir más es vivir” [6:06]1
Antonio Gaetano PAMPANI (1705?-1775)
Aria: “Oy gustoso el corazón” [7:32]1
Robert Pozzer (soprano)1, Sylva Pozzer (soprano)2, Vincenzo Di Donato (tenor)3; Albalonga/Aníbal E. Cetrangolo
rec. Abbazia di Santa Maria di Carceri, Padua, 3-5 June, 2007. SACD
Booklet notes in English, German, Spanish and Italian. Sung texts in Spanish.
ARTS 477228 [76:00]


Experience Classicsonline

This is a fascinating CD, the fruit of much scholarly endeavour and – fortunately – of abundant musicianship too. Pedantic minds such as mine may wish to quibble about the album’s somewhat misleading title: ‘Venetian Composers in Guatemala and Bolivia’. Galuppi travelled quite extensively – indeed from 1765 to 1768 he was maestro di capella to Catherine the Great in St. Petersburg. Giacomo Facco spent most of his working life in the Iberian peninsula, first in Portugal and then, for many years, in Madrid. But neither of them ever visited Latin America. Nor, so far as I know, did Antonio Gaetano Pampani ever make the arduous journey to Guatemala or Bolivia. Indeed, he appears never to have worked further afield than northern and central Italy.

Contrary to initial appearances, this is not, in short, one of the increasing number of albums devoted to the work of Italian composers who made their living in the New World – figures such as Roque Ceruti or Domenico Zipoli. Every bit as interestingly, this album focuses on what happened, in the New World, to works by Venetian composers, works which were appropriated and put to uses quite different from those envisaged by the composer.

Working from manuscript sources in the Archivo Musical de la Catedral de Guatemala, the Archivo y Biblioteca Nacionales de Bolivia (in Sucre) and the Biblioteca de Catalunya (in Barcelona), Anibal Cetrangelo and Demetrio Pala have identified music prepared for use in the churches of Guatemala and Bolivia which is actually comprised of extracts from operas by established Venetian composers, with the secular Italian words removed and new, sacred texts, in Spanish, substituted. Thus they have identified the aria “Oy gustoso el corazón” as a version (with radically different text) of the aria “Viverò se tu lo vuoi cara parte del mio core”, from the opera Artaserse by Pampani, first performed at the Teatro San Giovanni Grisostomo in Venice in 1750. Here this sacred parody, as it might reasonably be described (although its original audience would presumably have no idea of its secular original) gets a lovely performance from Roberta Pozzer with beautiful playing by (particularly) the strings and continuo of Albalonga. Elsewhere, slightly better known works by Galuppi and Facco come in for similar treatment. Sometimes the contrasts – emotionally and otherwise – between original and ‘replacement’ texts are startling. So, for example, Galuppi’s Olimpiade (using the often-set libretto by Metastasio) contains the aria “Son qual per mar turbato”, the words of which are full of tragic sentiments and possibilities. Yet someone took Galuppi’s music for the aria and fitted to it Spanish words (“Giro volando la sacra esfera”) about the birth of Christ! Amazingly, it works, and is here sung very persuasively by Sylva Pozzer.

There are intriguing issues here, which it wouldn’t be appropriate to try to discuss in a review - even if I felt confident that I had the necessary learning to do so. For the moment it is perhaps sufficient to register thanks and praise for the scholarship which underlies this issue, and for the excellent performances which make that scholarship ‘speak’ to listeners. Albalonga, under the direction, of Aníbal Cetrangolo plays with great vivacity and, where necessary, with great tenderness. The colours and harmonies and the buoyant continuo playing are alike excellent – the full ensemble is made up of two flutes, two oboes, trumpet, two horns, two violins, cello, violone and harpsichord. All three singers acquit themselves with considerable credit. I particularly liked the sensitivity and intelligence of Vincenzo Di Donato’s work in Facco’s Cantada humana de dos arias con violón.

Any reader with an interest in the music of Venice, or in the Italian baroque more generally, can be sure of enjoyable and thought-provoking listening here. This is the second CD produced under the auspices of the Istituto per lo studio della musica latinoamericana, directed by Cetrangolo. I look forward to further CDs.

Glyn Pursglove


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