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Francesco Nicola FAGO (1677–1745)
Cantatas for Solo Voice and Continuo Vol.1
Francesco Nicola FAGO
All’or ch’in dolce oblio: cantata a voce sola
[6:48]
Questo povero cor: cantata a voce sola [6:16]
Francesco Paolo SCIPRIANI (1678-1753)
Sinfonia di violoncello solo e basso (1720) [5:11]
Francesco Nicola FAGO
Tormentata: arietta diversa [3:56]
Come viver poss’io: cantata a voce sola [8:15]
Giovanni Girolamo KAPSBERGER (1580–1651)
Capona [1:52]
Francesco Nicola FAGO
Lagrime di cordoglio: cantata a voce sola [9:18]
Quanto invidio la tua sorte: cantata a voce sola [6:57]
Francesco CORBETTA (1615–81) Partie de Chacone [3:24]
Francesco Nicola FAGO
Lusinga di chi pena: arietta diversa [2:04]
Quall’or non veggio: cantata a voce sola [8:32]
Riccardo Angelo Strano (counter-tenor)
Ensemble Barocco Santa Teresa dei Maschi/Sabino Manzo (harpsichord)
Claudio Mastrangelo (baroque cello in instrumental pieces)
rec. 2015, Church of S. Teresa dei Maschi, Bari, Italy
Texts and translations included.
First recordings except the Kapsberger and Corbetta.
TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0367 [63:51].

Cantatas for Solo Voice and Continuo Vol. 2
Francesco Nicola FAGO

Che vuoi, mio cor, che vuoi? M2 [7:30]
Francesco SCIPRIANI (1678-1753)
12 Toccatas: Toccata No.10 [1:34]
Francesco Nicola FAGO
Doppo mille martiri M5 [10:04]
Francesco SCIPRIANI
Toccata No.5 [1:43]
Francesco Nicola FAGO
Ingegni curiosi M7 [6:23]
Francesco SCIPRIANI
Toccata No. 1 [1:16]
Francesco Nicola FAGO
Non credo che vi sia, Tormento M10 (1705) [8:46]
Francesco SCIPRIANI
Toccata No.9 [1:18]
Francesco Nicola FAGO
Č ben chiara ragione M6 [8:08]
Francesco SCIPRIANI
Toccata No.7 [1:32]
Francesco Nicola FAGO
Destati omai dal sonno M4 (1712) [11:01]
Riccardo Angelo Strano (counter-tenor)
Ensemble Barocco Santa Teresa dei Maschi/Sabino Manzo (harpsichord)
Claudio Mastrangelo (baroque cello in Scipriani)
rec. 2017, Church of S. Teresa dei Maschi, Bari, Italy
Texts and translations included
First recordings
TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0437 [59:22]

Toccata continue to regale us with recordings of out-of-the-way but far from negligible repertoire. More than a year ago I promised a review of the first volume. Here, at last, it is, together with the second in this series of three planned recordings of the music of Nicola Fago, an almost totally neglected contemporary of Alessandro Scarlatti, father of Domenico.

Fago’s music has an occasional walk-on part in collections – as it happens, an excerpt from his opera Il Faraone sommerso and his settings of Confitebor tibi Domine and Tam non splendet sol creatus have just appeared on a debut solo album featuring the Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński with Il Pomo d’Oro and Maxim Emelyanychev entitled Anima Sacra (Erato 9029563374). To date I have been able only to sample this from Naxos Music Library; it certainly seems worth further investigation.

Fago’s Confitebor and Stabat Mater feature on a Glossa album of Sacred Music in Early C18 Naples, mostly by Domenico Scarlatti, Il Tesoro di San Gennario, which Johan van Veen reviewed favourably, though with some reservations (GCD922605), but these Toccata recordings are the only ones currently (ever?) devoted entirely to his music and it’s almost entirely secular; only Destati omai del sonno which concludes Volume 2 is sacred in character.

Indeed, there could hardly be a more appropriate name for the composer of this music on largely pastoral themes: the joys and pains – mostly the latter – of love. ‘Fago’ means beech tree in older forms of Italian (Latin fagus, modern Italian faggio) and that’s where pastoral characters have traditionally sat in the shade at least since Virgil’s first Eclogue.

On both volumes the young Sicilian countertenor Riccardo Angelo Strano and Ensemble Barocco Santa Teresa dei Maschi give good accounts of themselves in this repertoire. Strano, who has featured on a Dynamic recording of Cilea’s Arlesiana (57688, blu-ray – Recording of the Month – 35688, DVD – review – CDS7688, 2-CDs – review), has a powerful voice with a remarkable range, more like Philippe Jaroussky’s soprano-like tones than you might expect from a countertenor – Orliński on the Erato album listed above, for example. The notes refer to the ‘vocal acrobatics’ of his own devising.

Without a benchmark, I can say only that I found the singing convincing. With very good support from the three members of Ensemble Barocco Santa Teresa dei Maschi, this is an enjoyable pair of discoveries. I’m not quite sure that the music is ‘stuffed with catchy tunes’, as claimed in the blurb, but a degree of poetic licence is always permissible.

As usual with Toccata, the notes in the booklets are state-of-the-art scholarly but accessible by the ordinary reader. The whole project is underpinned by solid research – the ensemble’s director Sabino Manzo adds a note on ornamentation in the music of this period and there’s a scholarly set of notes in Volume 2 from Professor Maria Grazia Melucci. In effect, these are a distillation of her PhD thesis of 1987 and subsequent research but, as usual with Toccata booklets, though scholarly – almost dissertations – they are accessible by the ordinary reader. You might, however, want to look up ‘figured bass’ and ‘dotted rhythms’.

A similarly scholarly but readable dissertation, from Dr. Dinko Fabris, is offered in Volume 1.

I had some reservations about some of the translations in the second booklet: surely guilt reproaches the sinner not with ‘condolence’ (Destati omai del sonno), though that’s the normal meaning of cordoglio, but with sorrow - as, indeed, it's translated in Volume 1 (Lagrime di cordoglio) - or shame, and il Gran Fattor in the same piece is surely [God] the Great Maker, not ‘the Great Factor’.

These two volumes of Fago’s music may not be one of my most urgent choices, but lovers of the baroque repertoire should at least check them out – Naxos Music Library can offer both, here and here, albeit without the booklet for Volume 1. Having tried them, I believe that you will go for at least one of them.

Next stop, perhaps, should be that Glossa recording of Confitebor and Stabat Mater mentioned above, which I enjoyed with slightly fewer reservations than Johan van Veen about the singing. It’s available in very good 24/44.1 sound, with pdf booklet, from eclassical.com. There’s also a 16-bit version for slightly less than the cost of the CD. Overall, perhaps, that more varied programme will have greater appeal than the works for solo voice; I’m certainly looking forward, however, to the third and concluding volume of the Toccata rehabilitation of this almost unknown composer.

Brian Wilson


 




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