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Neapolitan Flute Concertos - Vol. II
GERASO (fl early 1700s)
Concerto for transverse flute, two violins and bc in G [11:01]
Davide PEREZ (1711-1778)
Concerto for transverse flute, two violins and bc in G [14:54]
Carco CECERE (1706-1761)
Concerto for transverse flute, two violins and bc in G [10:07]
Francesco PAPA (fl mid-1700s)
Concerto for transverse flute, two violins and bc in D [12:14]
Antonio PALELLA (1682-1761) (attr)
Concerto for transverse flute, two violins and bc in G [13:58]
Carlo Ipata (transverse flute)
Auser Musici (Raul Orellana, Luca Giardini (violin), Marco Ceccato (cello), Riccardo Coelati (others), Alessandro Giachi (Palella) (double bass), Francesco Romano (theorbo, guitar), Daniele Boccaccio (harpsichord))
rec. March (others); May (Palella) 2011, Montemagno, Pisa, Italy. DDD
HYPERION CDA67884 [62:16]

In the second quarter of the 18th century Naples developed into one of the main music centres of Italy. Through composers travelling abroad and the dissemination of compositions the Neapolitan style became fashionable beyond the borders of Italy. It was one of the main contributors to the development of the galant idiom which would become the standard around the middle of the century.

Naples is especially associated with vocal music, such as cantatas and operas. In the decades around 1700 Naples also produced some virtuosic string players, for instance the violinists Giuseppe Antonio Avitrano and Michele Mascitti and the cellists Francesco Scipriani and Salvatore Lanzetti. However, flautists of any fame are not known. It is only fairly recently that attention is given to the repertoire for the transverse flute. In 2010 Hyperion released a disc with Neapolitan flute concertos (review). It includes music by composers most of whom are hardly known, such as Giuseppe de Majo and Tommaso Prota. The present disc is a sequel, and again we meet composers who are unknown quantities. The only exception is probably Davide Perez, whose vocal oeuvre has been investigated recently.

These concertos fall into the category of the concerto da camera which is indicated by the scoring for flute, two violins and bc. None of these concertos has a viola part. It seems likely that they were performed at private concerts in the palaces of the aristocracy. Four concertos are in three movements; only Perez' Concerto in G is in four. The role of the strings is not confined to playing the ritornelli like in the concertos by Vivaldi. There is much more of a real dialogue between the flute and the strings. In several movements the first violin plays an extended role, such as in the adagio from the Concerto in D by Francesco Papa. As I have written previously, vocal music played a major role in Neapolitan music life, and several concertos show the traits of vocal music, especially in the slow movements.

Little is known about the composers. Davide Perez was a prolific composer of music for the theatre, and also composed a large amount of sacred music. In 1752 the King of Portugal appointed him as mestre de capela; he remained in Lisbon until his death. Carlo Cecere is the only composer who seems to have been a flautist; his extant oeuvre includes various works with flute. Next to nothing is known about Francesco Papa and that also goes for a composer who is only known with his surname and is always referred to as Sig.r Geraso. According to Stefano Aresi in his liner-notes his writing for the flute is "extremely idiomatic" which suggests that he may have been a professional flautist as well.

The first disc included the Concerto No. 2 in G by Antonio Palella. This suggests that there is a Concerto No. 1; I can't say whether the concerto recorded here is that No. 1 concerto as the track-list doesn't give a number. It is not only attributed to Palella but also to Johann Adolf Hasse. That can be explained from the fact that Palella must have known Hasse and his music quite well. He worked mainly in the music theatre, and for some time Hasse was active in this field in Naples in the 1720s.

In 2012 the Italian label Dynamic also released a disc with Neapolitan flute concertos (review). The track-list suggests that it includes at least one piece which is also on this Hyperion disc, the Concerto in G by Perez. However, fortunately it also includes pieces by other composers not represented here or in the previous disc by Carlo Ipata. I was pleased by his performances on that disc, and this sequel is of the same high standard. This is no great music we cannot do without, but it is all very nice to hear. The music is of fine quality and Ipata and his colleagues deliver excellent performances once again. This is first-class musical entertainment and well worth listening to.

Johan van Veen