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Guido MORINI (b. 1959) Solve et Coagula - an opera
Marco Beasley (tenor)
rec. Church of Santa Maria Incoronata, Martinengo, Italy, 2014 ALPHA 537 [68:04]
I daresay that the name Marco Beasley is known to people, if at all, through his collaborations with L’Arpeggiata and Christina Pluhar, especially on their recordings La Tarantella (Alpha 503) and All ’Improvviso (Alpha 512). This is certainly the case for me, as it was through these discs that I first came to appreciate this artist’s remarkable vocal dexterity and his ability to sing in the traditional, classical and even folk idioms at the drop of a hat. Here however we find him with his own group, Accordone, which he co-founded in 1984 with Guido Morini, who here also acts as composer of this opera, with Beasley the librettist. Although the aim of Marco Beasley and Guido Morini has been to explore music from the time before Bach, this is, I think, the third CD produced by Accordone which presents Morini’s own music.
The opera is based on the life of Raimondo di Sangro, Prince of Sansevero, the eighteenth century polymath, Enlightenment thinker, soldier, inventor, artist and alchemist. Indeed, the title of the opera, Solve et Coagula, is derived from the alchemists' maxim, ‘dissolve and coagulate’. The texts have been chosen and adapted by Beasley to illuminate the differing aspects of Raimondo di Sangro’s life and achievements rather than to give the listener a coherent story. Whereas the music composed by Morini sounds as if it could have been written contemporaneously with the life of the opera's protagonist. That being said, the music is no eighteenth century pastiche, rather it is a historically informed interpretation of the music of the period. It incorporates some more modern techniques, including dodecaphony, not that you would know it. The music is interesting, there are short passages which are reminiscent of Karl Jenkins’ Palladio or even Ronḍ Veneziano, but overall it is a fascinating attempt to compose a modern opera with music sounding like that of the period in which the story is set. Some people might be put off by the sections of dialogue, especially the epistle like last two tracks but as a device for telling the story it works.
The performance is excellent, admirers of Marco Beasley’s fine tenor voice will find much to love here, whilst the playing of Accordone is, as always, first rate. The performance is captured in a pleasing acoustic, while the physical presentation, as with all Alpha discs, is something to savour and enhance the listener’s enjoyment.